Dams Reported Damaged as Soldiers Reach Quake’s Center

Edward Wong reports for the New York Times:

The possibility of far worse damage from Monday’s earthquake loomed Wednesday after a Chinese government report said that nearly 400 dams suffered damage. State media reported that 2,000 soldiers were sent to try to plug “very dangerous” cracks in one, upriver from the hard-hit Sichuan city of Dujiangyan, official media said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Chinese soldiers marching through mud and debris reached mountain towns at the epicenter of the earthquake on Wednesday, while army helicopters began airdrops of food and medicine in the same area. Officials raised their estimate of the number of people killed to nearly 15,000, with thousands more trapped and missing in remote areas.

The report on the damaged dams was by the National Development and Reform Commission. Most, it said, were small dams. The most seriously harmed appeared to be to the Zipingpu Dam, near Dujiangyan. The irrigation system in that area dates to the 3rd century B.C.

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