Of the 34 lakes formed by the earthquake in Sichuan Province, eight hold more than 3 million cubic meters of water, adding potential danger for the people who have lost so much in the disaster.
According to remote sensing information from space, as well as field observations from experts, a "quake lake" only 2.6 kilometers from Beichuan County has doubled in size between May 14 and May 18 to 150,000 square meters in surface area. Xuanping and Zhangjiaba villages, near the lake, are flooded.
To make matters worse, the Chinese National Meteorological Center predicted that rain might sweep quake-hit regions of the southwest next week and raise the water level of quake lakes.
A quake lake once burst and caused a major disaster after an earthquake that hit Maoxian County in 1933, said Yin Yueping, deputy chief engineer with the China Geological Survey. It has been monitoring the new lakes since the Sichuan quake.
Information on all 34 quake lakes has been sent to quake control and relief headquarters, the Ministry of Water Resources and the government of Sichuan Province.
According to Yin, efforts are being made to evacuate people living downstream of the lakes.
"We have begun to evacuate people in the lower reaches of the quake lakes," Zhu Bing, vice director of the Sichuan Provincial Water Resources Bureau, said yesterday.
"There is a possibility of the dam collapsing entirely in the case of a strong aftershock or rainstorm," Zhu said of the Tangjiashan quake lake in Beichuan, which Premier Wen Jiabao toured on Thursday.
(Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2008)