Fears are growing in China that more lives could be at risk after it was revealed Monday’s earthquake caused extensive damage to hundreds of dams and water reservoirs. The news comes from the country’s water minister himself, who also said attempts to deal with the threat were being hampered by poor information and management.
At the Zipingpu dam, just 20 kilometres from the epicentre of the quake in Sichuan province, 2,000 soldiers have been deployed to try to repair cracks in the structure.
It’s feared downstream communities already devastated by the quake could be further at risk. Dams and electric generators are only the visible part of the iceberg – there are also concerns nuclear arms and plutonium processing plants in the region could have suffered damage.
Authorities have raised the death toll to around 15,000, but more than 60,000 people are still either buried in the rubble or missing, and hundreds of thousands remain homeless.
Some 100,000 troops and police have been deployed in one of the biggest peace-time mobilisations ever.
Beijing is keen to show the world it is capable of handling the crisis and ready to host this summer’s Olympic Games.