High alert at quake lake

AFTERSHOCKS continued to threaten the stability of a swollen “quake lake” in south-west China, amid urgent efforts to drain its rising waters to prevent a flood downstream.

A 5.0-magnitude aftershock rattled the area of quake-devastated Sichuan province where the lake is located yesterday, US seismologists reported. An aftershock of the same strength struck the region on Sunday.

A local official in the city of Mianyang, located not far from the Tangjiashan lake, said the aftershocks had so far not had any impact on the unstable body of water.

But Xinhua said Sunday’s tremor had caused “massive landslides” on nearby mountains, and state television said that the situation remained “highly dangerous”, with hundreds of thousands of people living downstream.

The lake has become one of the most pressing issues in the aftermath of the May 12 quake that struck mountainous Sichuan, killing 69,142 and leaving 17,551 others missing, according to the latest toll.

Millions more have been left homeless by the 8.0-magnitude quake, which triggered huge landslides that blocked rivers and created more than 30 unstable “quake lakes”.

The water resources ministry said the water level had risen by nearly one metre in a 24-hour period.

About 6,900 cubic metres of water — the equivalent of nearly three Olympic-sized swimming pools — were flowing into the lake every minute, the ministry said.

Torrential rain was forecast for much of southern China over the next few days, but was not expected to affect quake-hit areas of Sichuan, the country’s meteorological centre said.

The quake zone was due to see searing hot temperatures — an unwelcome piece of news for the millions of displaced people living in tents.


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