Barrier lake faces flood season

2008-06-30 07:50:55 GMT       2008-06-30 15:50:55 (Beijing Time)       CCTV


Over two weeks have past since China declared a decisive victory over its huge drainage efforts to shrink the largest quake-formed barrier lake. Now the possibility of floods, landslides and mudslides is increasing with the rainy month of July just around the corner. A group of geologists working at the barrier lake.

The town of Leigu is now a city of tents. Tens of thousands of people are living in makeshift shelters here. This is the state of living for the 10 million people in whole downstream area.

Just a 30-minute plane journey from Leigu, lies the Tangjiashan barrier lake, the largest among the 34 lakes formed by the May 12th disaster. Water still keeps draining down from the lake. The sluice is now 150 meters in width following 17 days of wash by over 60 percent of the lake's water volume of 243 million cubic meters.

Yang Hongwei, Dep. Chief Engineer Chengdu Hydroelectric Investigation & Design Institute, said, "Now the water level has retreated from 743.13 meters' high to 710 meters. It shrank 33 meters with 157 million cubic meters of water discharged. On June 11th the drainage reached 6,500 cubic meters per second. That is the same as the speed of floods which occur once in two hundred years."

But the war is far from over. This crack on the hill slope is a warning of potential landslides.

Prof. Li Xiyao, Chengdu Hydroelectric Investigation and. Design Institute, said, "From the helicopter, the mountain chain looks like the back of a fish with all its flesh stripped away. And mountains are loosened by the quake. They are like the palm of a human hand. The space between each fingers is filled with loosened rocks and mud which is dangerous."

And the fears were realized on June 14th.

Yang Hongwei , said, "On June 14th, the rainfall reached 110 millimeters. A blockage of 80 thousand cubic meters fell down and jammed the sluice and the water level continued to rise after that."

The solidity of the embankment is another concern. Soil and rock samples are taken to find out where the barrier lake can still hold up and where there is a risk of collapse.

Experts say they will complete their evaluation before the month of July which is known as the start of China's flood season.

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