China earmarks more funds to cope with threats of "quake lakes"

2008-05-29 11:40:49 GMT       2008-05-29 19:40:49 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

BEIJING, May 29 (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of Finance said on Thursday it had earmarked another 1 billion yuan (about 144 million U.S. dollars) to finance plans and measures to deal with the swelling lakes formed by the May 12 earthquake.

The money will be used to repair those severely-damaged small reservoirs in quake-hit regions, the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, the ministry had earmarked 4 million yuan to assist local authorities to minimize the threats of these "quake lakes," according to the statement.

Many such lakes are threatening to burst and flood downstream areas.

The southwestern Sichuan Province was rocked by a devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake this month that also caused severe damage to several neighboring provinces, including Gansu and Shaanxi.

In the wake of the earthquake, landslides created 34 "quake lakes" in Sichuan alone, with 28 still at risk of rupturing, according to the relief headquarters of the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR).

The largest, and of most concern, is Tangjiashan Lake. As of Tuesday, it was holding 130 million cubic meters of water and the water level was 727.02 meters, up 1.82 meters from Monday and only about 25 meters below the lowest part of the barrier, said MWR chief engineer Liu Ning.

Hundreds of workers, using 40 large units of earthmoving equipment including bulldozers, have been working non-stop on top of the Tangjiashan barrier, constructing a diversion channel.

An estimated 158,000 people will have to move if the lake bursts its banks. So far, more than 100,000 people in Mianyang City have been relocated.

I have comments _COUNT_