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Risky Reservoir Threatens City, Railway

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A reservoir on the verge of collapse in northwest China's Qinghai Province is threatening to flood a city and damage the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Several leaks have been reported in the embarkment of the Wenquan Reservoir of rural Golmud City, 127 km from the urban area. If it collapses, the city with a population of 205,700 could be flooded by waters up to 4 meters deep. The city's power and water plants are also at risk, said a statement from the municipal government.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world's highest railway, could also be hit by flood waters as it is only 40 km away from the reservoir.

The reservoir has been badly maintained as it lies in a usually drought-prone area. It now holds 230.8 million cubic meters of water but can only safely hold 70 million cubic meters, experts with the provincial drought relief and flood control headquarters said.

The reservoir's water level is still rising at one centimeter per hour as the snow on nearby mountains continues to melt as temperatures climb.

Rescue work is underway.

(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2010)

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