Dams and Earthquakes

China’s Wen returns to quake zone as sheltering crisis looms

Bloomberg
May 22, 2008

The threat of flooding from blocked rivers is of increasing concern as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao returns to Sichuan province, reports Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s Dune Lawrence and Aaron Sheldrick write:

Landslides have blocked rivers and created 34 so-called quake lakes, Liu Yuan, an official in the Ministry of Land and Resources, said today at a news briefing. Water levels are still rising and workers are digging channels to try to drain them.

“Given that there are still aftershocks occurring and that June is the rainy season, landslides and mudflows are likely and flooding of barriers is likely,” Yun Xiaosu, vice minister of land and resources, said at a news conference in Beijing today. A 4.5 magnitude aftershock hit the area today at 3:18 p.m. local time, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website. Wen earlier ordered 24-hour patrols on dams in the area.

Dams on the Min River, also near the epicenter, are “temporarily stable,” assuming there are no strong aftershocks or heavy rains, Gu Junyuan, the chief engineer of the China Electricity Regulatory Commission, said three days ago. The commission imposed higher earthquake safety standards for new hydropower projects after the temblor, it said in a statement on its website today.

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