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Embankment collapses along Yellow River in north China
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An embankment shoring up a dike in a section of the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region collapsed on Wednesday morning, local authorities said.

The 400-meter embankment, located in Erdos City, collapsed as the frozen Yellow River continued to thaw.

The collapse caused a flood in the area, said a city government official, but no injury has been reported. Salvage workers worked to minimize the flood by constructing barriers of stakes and sandbags beside the dike.

The regional ice run prevention headquarters issued a warning of the dangers of collapsed embankments and flooding on Tuesday as the river continued to thaw.

About 212 kilometers of the 720-km length of the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia began to melt on March 11, after a full thawing of the upper stretch in neighboring Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and the thaw had reached sections near Bayan Nur City on the north bank and Erdos City on the south, according to the headquarters.

The 200-km section near the two cities has poor embankments and the danger of collapse recurs annually. Since the section froze this past winter, 34 locations have had embankment warnings.

Artillery troops carried out blasting operations on two sections of the Yellow River in the region last Friday and Monday to clear accumulated ice blocks threatening lives and property.

Sections of the Yellow River freeze and thaw at different times. When an ice run flows into a frozen section, it can become blocked. If the blockage persists, water levels may rise and cause flooding and dam bursts, threatening lives and property. The ice-run phenomenon takes place at the start of winter and spring.

More than 70,000 people in the region have been organized for rescue and disaster relief efforts along the river.

The river's ice flood was the heaviest in 40 years. Its watercourse in the region is holding some 1.8 billion cubic meters of water, 50 percent more than in a normal year. Low-quality dams in certain sections worsened the situation.

The Inner Mongolia stretch is forecast to be fully thawed by late March.

The 5,464-km-long Yellow River originates in Qinghai Province in the northwest and flows through Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong before emptying into the Bohai Sea.

(Xinhua News Agency March 19, 2008)

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