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Cracks in Yangtze levee pose 'no danger'
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-30 06:00

The cracks that appeared in the levee of the Yangtze River after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit Jiujiang in East China's Jiangxi Province on Saturday "pose no danger for the time being," said government officials yesterday.

The cracks were found in the Yong'an section of the levee, 30 metres above the ground, Zheng Keqiang, deputy secretary-general of the Jiangxi provincial government, said at a news conference.

"The cracks will cause no immediate havoc as the Yangtze River is in dry season," Zheng said.

The earthquake, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, rocked Ruichang and Jiujiang on Saturday morning, killing at least 15 and injuring around 400. Thousands of houses collapsed or were badly damaged.

Tremors were felt in neighbouring Hubei Province, where one was killed and nearly 100 injured; and in Anhui Province, where dozens of homes were damaged.

Yangtze, the nation's longest river, flows through Jiujiang. It caused a huge loss for local people when the river flooded in 1998.

Yang Huilong, a senior engineer from the local water conservancy authority, said the cracks will not cause serious flooding because the water level is currently below the ground level inside the embankment since it is dry season.

Near Wangjiabao Village of the Jiujiang County, one of the hardest-hit areas of the tremor, two cracks measuring 3-metres long and 10-centimetres wide are exposed in the air, China Daily learned after visiting the site yesterday.

A local villager said a lot of water poured out from the cracks on the day the quake occurred.

"The cracks would be very dangerous if it were flood season as a tiny seam might lead to the collapse of the dam," he said.

According to Zheng, experts from the Ministry of Water Conservancy are collaborating with the local flood control department to examine the embankment of the Yangtze River.

The earthquake and ensuing aftershocks caused cracks in some buildings near the river.

Workers from the local flood control departments have been busy clearing the blocked canals, according to the official.

Meanwhile, around 400 experts have been organized to examine the damaged houses in Ruichang and Jiujiang in order to provide support for those who are still camping out in the open, he said.

More than 250,000 quake victims are still living in tents or makeshift "homes" on the street.

By 1:50 pm yesterday, 489 aftershocks had hit Ruichang and Jiujiang since the quake happened. Nine of them measured above 3.0 on the Richter scale.

Due to the constant aftershocks, local residents are reluctant to return their homes.

(China Daily 11/30/2005 page2)

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