China Lets Town’s Ruins Wash Away, in Effort to Avert Disaster Downriver

The New York Times has the latest on the so-called and the destruction of , one of the town hardest hit by last month’s earthquake:

The surge of floodwater into the town, Beichuan, was part of an effort by engineers and soldiers to drain Tangjiashan, one of more than 30 so-called quake lakes that were formed by landslides. For weeks, the dam of rock and mud holding back the rising waters of the Jian River there has threatened to burst and flood towns and cities downstream that are home to 1.3 million people.

The rapid outflow means the water level of Tangjiashan could soon drop to a nonhazardous level, reported Xinhua, the official state news agency.

The flooding is contributing to the destruction of Beichuan, once home to 22,000 people and now a symbol of the earthquake’s savagery. Government officials said in May that they would like to preserve part of the ruined town, in the mountains of northern Sichuan Province, as a memorial to the earthquake’s victims. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited Beichuan shortly after the quake while rescue workers were scouring the rubble for survivors.

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