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China quake toll touches 410, artificial lakes pose threat

Beijing: Rescuers in quake-hit Chinese village today faced difficulty in evacuating villages near rising lakes formed by landslides, complicating relief efforts following a powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 410 people and injured 2,300 others.

Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang who is personally supervising the relief operations from a tent in the affected areas paid silent tribute to those who died in the earthquake in Yunnan Province. At least 410 people were killed and more than 2,300 were injured in the earthquake, according to the latest data, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Landslides have created barrier lakes where water levels were rising to pose a new threat to about 800 villagers. A huge quake lake containing more than 3,000 cubic metres of water has inundated dozens of homes and continues to threaten nearby villages, said local hydrological officials.

The lake was formed in Jiangbian Village, Zhixiang Township of Huize County following a landslide that occurred in the upper reaches of the Hongshiyan hydropower station, which is under construction. Its water level is increasing at a speed of 30 cm per hour, putting seven power stations in the lower reaches in danger, the officials said.

A Chinese army surgeon with Yunnan's border defence troops went missing after attempting to swim through another quake lake to reach Guangming village to conduct relief operations. At the meeting with local officials and rescuers from the armed forces, Li ordered the placement of professional rescue teams in the most needed areas and called for more medical workers to be transferred to quake-hit areas.

To minimise casualties, the government will transport the seriously injured out of the quake zone as quickly as possible, the premier said. The massive quake left a trail of destruction with more than 12,000 houses toppled and 30,000 damaged.

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