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Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 11:05 UK

China 'quake lake' area evacuated

Landslide mud that formed the Tangjiashan quake lake near Beichuan County in  Sichuan  province (Image Xinhua)
The Tangjiashan lake, created by the earthquake, is at risk of overflowing

Another 80,000 Chinese people are being evacuated from near a lake formed by landslides in this month's huge earthquake, state media report.

Experts fear the build-up of water at the swollen Tangjiashan lake could burst the banks, deluging the area.

About 70,000 people have already been moved from nearby Mianyang city in Sichuan province, Xinhua said.

Chinese soldiers have been working all night to dig a channel to ease pressure from the so-called "quake lake".

The official death toll from the 12 May quake was raised slightly on Tuesday to 67,183, with another 20,790 listed as missing.

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

Landslides triggered by the disaster have blocked dozens of rivers in Sichuan province, leading to the formation of many new lakes, some of which have already engulfed villages.

Officials are particularly worried about the Tangjiashan lake, where the water level has risen rapidly to within 26 metres of the fragile dam's lip.

Landslide debris is holding back about 130 million cubic metres of water at the site in Beichuan county.

Emergency workers aim to evacuate the 80,000 people by midnight (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.

Troops are using earth-moving equipment as they try to ease pressure on the lake's banks. They are also preparing to use explosives.

More than five million people remain homeless following the 7.9 magnitude quake and the area is still being rocked by sizeable aftershocks.

Six people died and 300,000 more homes were wrecked by a strong tremor on Sunday.

Storms have been forecast for the region, potentially compounding problems as rain water drains into the lakes.

Officials have said that reconstruction work in the area is set to take at least three years.

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Water flows from the lakes down man-made channels




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