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Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 13:00 UK

China quake zone braced for rain

There are fears that lakes created by the earthquake could burst.

China's earthquake zone has been warned to prepare for heavy rains which could hamper further relief efforts.

There are concerns that construction of temporary shelters for five million homeless could be delayed, while water levels in dams and lakes remain high.

A 5.8 magnitude aftershock hit the area on Sunday, and was felt in Beijing, though there were no reports of damage.

State TV said one person was killed, several hundred were injured, and 70,000 homes were destroyed.

It was one of the strongest of about 8,000 aftershocks detected since the 7.9 quake on 12 May.

QUAKE STATISTICS
map
Up to Sunday 20 May:
62,664 people dead
358,816 injured
23,775 still missing
More than 5.4 million homeless
638,305 rescued and resettled
More than 8,000 aftershocks, biggest 6.0
69 dams faced danger of collapse, 310 in dangerous state and another 1,424 facing moderate risks
Source: Chinese government

The tremor thought to be the biggest, measuring 6.0, came six days after the quake and killed three people and injured more than 1,000.

Earlier a survivor was pulled from the rubble in Mianzhu, more than 11 days after the quake, state TV said.

Eighty-year-old Xiao Zhihu, who was partially paralysed before the quake, was trapped under a pillar of his house.

He had been fed by his wife while trapped and was in a stable condition, the reports said.

Government officials said the death toll had now risen to 62,664, and few more survivors are expected to be found.

Rescuers are still searching for 24 miners trapped underground by the earthquake in three mines, but it is not known whether they are still alive.

Premier Wen Jiabao has said the final death toll could be more than 80,000.

Office worker Dong Zheng describes the moment the aftershock hit

More than five million buildings collapsed in the earthquake and more than five million people are homeless, officials say.

Dam fears

Sunday's aftershock sent residents of the provincial capital Chengdu running out into the streets.

It was centred on Qingchuan, some way to the north of the epicentre of the main earthquake.

Rains are expected later on Sunday and on Monday, which forecasters said would be torrential in some areas and could cause mudslides.

There is also continuing concern over the state of dams in the region, and a number of new lakes formed by the force of the earthquake.

China's Water Ministry said 69 dams were at one time in danger of bursting, although steps have been taken to reduce the risk.

satellite images show lake forming
Satellite images reveal a lake forming in Beichuan County

More than 300 more were affected by the earthquake, it added, saying many had been drained or had their water levels reduced.

There have been no reports of any dams breaking.

Thirty-four lakes were created in the province when landslides blocked rivers, Xinhua news agency said.

Eight held more than three million cubic metres of water and a lake at Tangjiashan, less than 3km (two miles) from Beichuan town, had doubled in size in four days.

Troops carrying explosives are heading for the lake to dig a sluice channel to allow a controlled release of water and prevent it from bursting.



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