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Move to drain lake water out deferred
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Rescue workers are not likely to start draining out water from a major quake lake near Beichuan county in Sichuan province till Thursday, two days later than originally planned, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Water needs to be drained out of Tangjiashan lake to prevent it from bursting its banks and destroying life and property in the quake-ravaged areas downstream.

The water level in the lake rose 1.2 m in the 24 hours till noon yesterday. But experts said the rise in water level will slow down because not much rain is likely in the next few days.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) yesterday forecast cloudy skies and/or light showers for the quake-hit areas till tomorrow. But moderate rain is likely to hit the region later in the week.

"From Thursday to Friday, the quake-hit areas would have moderate rain and some parts heavy rain," the center said.

Heavy rain will increase the risk of the quake-formed lakes bursting their banks and flooding human settlements downstream.

Tangjiashan lake is the most dangerous of the 34 such lakes formed when post-quake landslides dammed the rivers on the mountains.

More than 700 People's Liberation Army soldiers completed a water diversion project, digging a 475-m channel from the Tangjiashan lake dam on Saturday night, five days ahead of schedule.

They have set up seven monitoring posts around the lake to monitor any changes in the level of water or the dam.

The flow of water from a breach in the lower part of dam increased suddenly on Sunday afternoon, but it had stabilized by 5 PM yesterday, Xinhua said.

If there is no obvious change in the flow, water can be drained out from the lake on Thursday morning, Xinhua said, quoting experts.

According to the disaster relief headquarters in Mianyang, a major city downstream, 210,000 people have been evacuated to save them from being swept away in a possible flash flood.

Toll up slightly

The death toll in the quake increased to 69,019 by noon yesterday, with 373,573 injured and 18,627 missing, the Information Office of the State Council said yesterday.

The office said the quake had hit 45.55 million people, 15.15 million of who had been relocated.

Hospitals had treated 92,973 injured survivors by noon yesterday and discharged 68,565 of them. A total of 11,832 were still being treated and 10,015 had been transferred out of Sichuan for further treatment.

Altogether, 187 aftershocks were recorded from Sunday noon to midday yesterday, putting the total number of aftershocks since May 12 at 9,897.

By noon yesterday, China had received donations worth 41.74 billion yuan ($6.01 billion) in cash and materials from domestic as well as overseas donors.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency June 3, 2008)

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