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China works flat out to prevent dam flood

Breaking Earth News
Earthquake survivors flee in a speedboat from a landslide set off by an aftershock in Yingxiu, Sichuan Province

Story: Chinese engineers are working round the clock to try to stop thousands of people from being flooded out by water in a dam that was created by landslides during the earthquake. The swelling lake that has risen to 70m (230ft) would threaten, if it burst, the five million residents of Mianyang county, home to the second-biggest city in southwestern Sichuan province. It is expected that the water will be released to avert a collapse. One plan is to build up earth barriers halfway across the Beichuan river, at several points downstream from the reservoir. These barriers would divert the water, slowing its flow and reducing the danger to communities in its path. Once these were ready, some or all of the water could be released over the next day or two, possibly by blasting away part of the landslide. More than 2,000 people were moved at the weekend from a village in Hongyuang township after the blocked Qingzhu river burst its banks and began flooding their homes. At one dam in Fuxing Township, a team of engineers from northeastern Liaoning Province was using lorries and diggers to shore up a small reservoir that had sprung a leak during the tremor. Officials have already helped the farmers downstream to bring in their crops — just in case. Several dams weakened by the earthquake are under 24-hour observation for signs of collapse and may not be able to withstand strong aftershocks or flooding. “The earthquake this time has caused damage at various levels to reservoirs and dams." More than a thousand dams of different sizes lie in the area hit by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake. Right after the earthquake, the Chinese army was trying to reach people to rescue them, but the roads were blocked. If there weren't so many dams, more soldiers could have gone by boat. But the dams were in the way
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