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More People Being Evacuated from Swollen Lake Area

Emergency workers are aiming to evacuate another 80,000 people from the area downstream of a swelling earthquake-induced lake by midnight on Tuesday.

Altogether 158,000 people will have to move from their homes if Tangjiashan Lake under an emergency plan drawn up for the contingency of a third of the lake volume bursting its banks.

The lake was formed by landslides that blocked a river known as the Jianjiang after the May 12 quake, bursts its banks, according to Mianyang City Quake Control and Relief Headquarters.

The people being affected are from 169 communities in 33 townships of Mianyang, one of the areas worst hit by the May 12 quake, under one of three emergency plans.

So far, more than 70,000 people in Mianyang City have been relocated.

Two other plans require the relocation of 1.2 million people if the half of the lake volume is released or 1.3 million if the barrier of the quake lake fully opens.

Tangjiashan, one of 35 such lakes, is inaccessible by road and can only be reached by foot or air.

It was holding 130 million cubic meters of water, said Liu Ning, Ministry of Water Resources chief engineer, who is at Tangjiashan to oversee the work. Its water level was 725.3 meters on Monday, only 26 meters below the lowest part of the barrier.

(Xinhua News Agency May 27, 2008)

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