China Considers Earthquake Danger Of Dams

Barbara Demick reports in the LA Times:

China has more than any other country, about half of the world’s total, and the presence of so many near the epicenter in Sichuan province has been a huge complication in the quake’s aftermath. After two weeks of downplaying the problem, the Water Resources Ministry acknowledged Sunday that 69 reservoirs and were on the verge of collapse, and nearly 3,000 in China had sustained damage.

The threat of flash floods from dams and “quake lakes” formed from landslides blocking rivers has forced tens of thousands of already traumatized quake survivors to relocate, some more than once. The dams also prevented rescue workers from navigating the rivers to reach victims in areas made inaccessible after roads were washed out.

Many Chinese hold the mystical view that natural disasters are the result of human failings and point to the widespread construction of dams as a possible culprit. The Min River, a tributary of the Yangtze that runs through the path of destruction, is one of the most dammed rivers in the country.

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