MIANYANG, Sichuan Province, May 27 (Xinhua) -- A
swollen "quakelake" in one of the worst hit areas in China's devastating
earthquake has topped the country's agenda of relief work.
In a phone call on Monday night, Chinese President Hu
Jintao told Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, who were in southwestern Sichuan province
to oversee the quake relief work, that the relief task force must make sure no
serious problems occur in the emergencies.
"We must put people first and the priority is to
protect their lives," he said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in Beijing on Tuesday
the relief headquarters will evacuate residents from the area downstream of the
lake and at the same time, try to drain the water. "We must well prepare and do
the two parts of work side by side."
The lake, at Tangjiashan of Beichuan County in
Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, was formed by landslides that blocked the
Jianjiang River after the May 12 quake.
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 diversion work.
Its water level was 727.09 meters on Tuesday, only
24.21 meters below the lowest part of the barrier, according to Mianyang City
Quake Control and Relief Headquarters.
Hui flew to the lake on Tuesday morning to check the
situation on ground. When he returned to Mianyang, he called a meeting to
discuss plans to defuse the danger imposed by the quake lake.
"The Tangjiashan quake lake should be our most urgent
task. It is threatening millions of lives in the area downstream and any
negligence will cause new disasters to people who have already suffered the
quake," he told the meeting.
The diversion work has been on the track, he said,
"We will well prepare for the worst situation, taking account of any possible
difficulties in draining the lake and evacuating the people".
So far, more than 70,000 people in Mianyang City have
In total, 158,000 people from 169 communities in 33
townships of Mianyang will have to move from their homes if one third of the
lake volume bursts its banks, according to an emergency plan drawn up for the
Hui asked the headquarters to perfect the contingency
plans, check every detail and push ahead the work in an orderly fashion.
He stressed enhanced monitoring of the lake's
As of Tuesday noon, 26 sets of machines, five tons of
fuel and 157 workers had been airlifted to the lakeside while about 1,200
soldiers arrived on foot carrying ten tons of equipment and explosives.
The lake is inaccessible by road and can only be
reached by foot or air.