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Farmland Flooded After Reservoir Cracks

About 3.6 square kilometers of farmland and eight wells were flooded after the embankment of a reservoir in northwest China's Gansu Province cracked around midday on Thursday.

Seven houses and dozens of sheep pens were destroyed, but no casualties were reported, according to the local government on Friday.

Water flowed through Xiangdao village about eight kilometers downstream from the reservoir and into an adjacent river, deluging farmland on the way.

A highway bridge linking Gaotai Township with Xiangdao Village was destroyed by the water and the highway was closed.

Local residents and workers have begun to repair the roads, trenches and other facilities destroyed by the water. On late Thursday, the water flow had slowed to a trickle and the bottom of the reservoir could be seen.

The embankment of Xiaohaizi reservoir in Gaotai County cracked at 12:10a.m. Thursday, local authorities reported.

The rift in the ten-meter-high dam was reportedly 30 meters long and water came pouring out towards four downstream villages. The maximum water flow was about 90 cubic meters per second.

Wang Aiqin, head of the publicity department of the Gaotai county government, said about 1,700 residents were initially evacuated but most of them have now returned to their homes.

There had been downpours earlier in the week, and excessive rainfall may be a factor in the crack, Wang said, adding that water conservancy experts have been asked to investigate the cause of the burst.

The Xiaohaizi Reservoir consist of three reservoirs with a total storage capacity of about 10 million cubic meters. It was initially built in 1958, and has gone through several renovations and expansion projects. The most recent renovation lasted two years from 2002 to 2004.

The crack appeared on the lowest reservoir of the three, which stored about 2.8 million cubic meters of water.

Local repairmen have started inspecting the other reservoirs and so far found no hazards, according to the county government.

(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2007)

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