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China's Huge Water Diversion Project Unaffected by Earthquake

The Construction Committee in charge of the massive south-to-north water diversion project, said in Beijing on Tuesday that the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southwest China didn't impact the project.

The committee said it had issued an urgent circular right after Monday's quake, demanding its subordinate branches to make a thorough check on some key areas and buildings in order to assess the impact of the devastating quake.

Based on incoming reports by the midday of Tuesday, the Committee said the earthquake had not caused any ill effects on either finished projects or those under construction.

The multi-billion-dollar water diversion project, whose construction began in December 2002, was designed and built to transfer water from the water-rich south to the dry north in China.

Earlier on Monday afternoon, the earthquake hit the southwestern Chinese town of Wenchuan, which is far from regions where the water diversion project is built.

The earthquake, whose tremors were felt over much of China, had claimed about 12,000 lives by Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the Water Resources Ministry said it had dispatched several work teams to quake-hit localities such as Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces as well as Chongqing municipality.

The teams will work to prevent dams that were damaged by the earthquake from bursting and endangering the lives of residents, said the ministry.

"Local governments should monitor the projects, to discover and repair damage as soon as possible. In case of danger, make sure to transport people to safer places." said Water Minister Chen Lei.

The Three Gorges Dam had not been affected by the quake and "everything was going as usual," according to Hu Xing'e, an executive with the China Three Gorges Project Corporation.

(Xinhua News Agency May 14, 2008)

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