The first explosions to clear a series of reefs that have hampered shipping on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River were successful on Monday afternoon in east China's Anhui Province.
The blasting of 700 kg of dynamite -- enough to topple seven 10-storey buildings -- occurred at 3:08 PM, according to the Anqing city branch of the Yangtze River Waterway Bureau.
The move is one of the efforts to dredge the Yangtze, the country's longest river, and to develop shipping during the 11th Five-year Plan period (2006-2010).
The project will last until June 25 and clear the Taiziji section of the river, where reefs measure 200 meters by 120 meters. Debris is expected to be cleared by the end of June next year.
"In the months ahead, blasting will be carried out every other day and altogether 275 tons of explosives and 110,000 meters of wire will be needed for the entire operation," said Pei Wei, deputy director of Maritime Affairs Bureau of Anqing, adding the impact on shipping would be limited.
Taiziji waterway is 26 km long and is called the "ghost triangle" for its numerous reefs and complicated channels. Ninety accidents have been reported in the area in the last two decades.
The 6,300-km Yangtze originates in the Tanggula Range on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and passes through Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai before emptying into the East China Sea.
Information from the Ministry of Communications said the central government would set aside 15 billion yuan (US$1.88 billion) for Yangtze development during the 2006-2010 period, including dredging of navigable channels and port construction.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2007)