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Water level of main quake lake keeps falling
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The water level of the Tangjiashan quake lake was still dropping on Wednesday, while experts warned that dangers remain.

As of 8 a.m., the level had fallen to 714.62 meters from the highest point of 743.1 meters and the lake was draining at a rate of 68.4 cubic meters a second, according to the quake lake relief headquarters in Mianyang.

Liu Qibao, Communist Party chief of the southwestern Sichuan Province, declared on Tuesday the drainage of the swollen lake was "a decisive victory".

Picture taken on June 10, 2008 from a helicopter shows flood submerge part of Beichuan County in southewest China's Sichuan Province.The influx and outflow of the lake reached a balance at the current water level, according to the Tangjiashan Lake emergency rescue headquarters on Tuesday. The lake's dam was also more secure after the water level in the lake reduced to between 720 and 721 meters at 5 p.m. (Xinhua Photo)

More than half of the 250-million-cubic-meter volume had been discharged and the number of people under threat had dropped from 1.3 million to less than 50,000, said Liu.

However, Water Resources Minister Chen Lei warned that dangers posed by the lake remained although the water level was likely to linger around 720 meters for some time.

"There are still some 100 million cubic meters in the lake, which is subject to the threat of aftershocks, landslides, heavy rain," he said.

"Another major test for us is coming as the flood season approaches. The best situation is to completely clear the water from the Tangjiashan lake before the flood season."

Chen said experts with the ministry would fly to the lake area to conduct geological studies and assess the risks on Wednesday and Thursday.

"The 20,000 relocated residents of Mianyang are expected to return home in another two days as the flow continues," he said.

The Tangjiashan quake lake was formed after quake-triggered landslides from Tangjiashan Mountain blocked the Tongkou River running through Beichuan County, one of the worst-hit areas in the May 12 quake. It began to drain on Saturday morning through a manmade diversion channel.

(Xinhua News Agency June 11, 2008)

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