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Matter of Time Before Tibet Lake Bursts - Official

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2004/08/17; August 17, 2004.]

BEIJING, Tue 17 August, 2004 (Reuters) - A Tibetan lake formed by a Himalayan landslide is steadily rising and will sooner or later burst its banks and flood a valley in neighboring India, a Chinese official said on Tuesday.

The lake developed late last month after the landslide blocked the Pareechu River, a tributary of the River Sutlej that also flows into India, prompting the evacuation of at least 3,000 people from downstream villages.

"The water level in the lake is rising pretty steadily these days, by several cm a day," said an official with the water resources bureau in Tibet's Ali prefecture.

"Rainfall in the area has been low recently despite the rainy season. If it keeps low, the lake is not expected to burst its banks for at least two weeks. But sooner or later it will burst."

The Ali government had evacuated 210 farmers near the lake, the official said, and there was no danger of casualties in China.

But authorities in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh have evacuated more than 3,000 people from eight villages on the banks of the Sutlej.

Another 350 villages in the region are under threat, which comes during South Asia's worst monsoon flooding in 15 years that has killed more than 1,800 people and displaced millions, mostly in Bangladesh and eastern India. "There is still a danger with the lake," a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. "We are highly concerned with this case and have maintained frequent contacts with the Indian side."


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