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Rain slows drainage work at quake lake
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Heavy rain has grounded helicopters and slowed channel digging work as water levels rise at a barrier lake in quake-stricken Sichuan Province this morning.

With helicopters grounded, engineers can't airlift heavy machinery needed to dig the channel and drain the lake.

The rain started last night at Tangjiashan quake lake, which formed after the devastating May 12 earthquake in Wenchuan County, Sichuan, China News Service reported today.

Up to 9.4 millimeters of rain had fallen by 8 AM today, which led to the suspension of materials and energy resources being transported via helicopter to the quake lake, which is inaccessible by road.

About 1,000 soldiers are now hiking to Tangjiashan with 1,500 containers of oil. Each container has 25 liters of oil, the report said.

Oil supplies are vital as workers are using 40 large earth-moving machines, including bulldozers, to dig a channel for water drainage.

On Monday, 1,800 soldiers hiked to the quake lake with dynamite, planning to blast the lake in an emergency that threatens tens of thousands of residents in the area.

The lake holds about 130 million cubic meters of water. Its water level was at 729.19 meters at 6pm yesterday, up 2.17 meters from Tuesday, the report said.

More than 150,000 people living below the lake have been evacuated amid fears it could burst its banks and trigger massive flooding.

Channel digging work is expected to be completed by June 5 if the weather is good, according to previous reports.

Experts previously planned to blast the lake. However, the plan was aborted over fears that a blast may shake nearby mountains that are already extremely unstable.

(Shanghai Daily May 29, 2008)

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