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In Photos: Lake Evacuation
Story: Aftershocks are continuing to rock the region, and on Tuesday 63 people were injured, including six critically, in Qingchuan county. The aftershocks, coupled with heavy rain, are hampering relief efforts. A total of 158,000 people (in about 30 towns) have now been evacuated from potentially vulnerable areas downstream from Tangjiashan lake. The lake's water level is rising by more than one metre pre day. It now holds as much water as 50,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. If the water bursts through the natural barrier of rock and earth, more than one million people may have to be relocated.
RELATED NEWS: Chinese Disaster
Two further aftershocks have destroyed more than 420,000 houses in the Chinese region hit by a massive earthquake two weeks ago. Many of the homes appear to have been empty, but six people are said to have been critically injured in the tremors. One of the aftershocks measured magnitude 5.7. The same county was strongly shaken on Sunday, wrecking 300,000 more homes, killing eight people and injuring hundreds.
The 8.0 earthquake devastated the key agricultural province of Sichuan. In the towns and villages around Mianzhu, everything speaks of collapse. Crushed pigs poke out from the remains of pulverised buildings. Terraced farms have been overrun by landslides. Irrigation trenches are either split and leaking or blocked and dry. Factories and mines are silent - their operations wrecked and their labour forces dead or evacuated. But the earthquake will barely register on global energy and commodity prices: the province produces 20% of China's natural gas, 3% of its aluminium and 3% of its coal, but the quake will not reduce those contributions significantly. Analysts are most worried about the longer-term impact on agriculture. With Sichuan being China's biggest producer of pigs and a leading grower of rice and vegetables, damage to agriculture could trigger surges in inflation, with food prices already extremely sensitive. A serious concern is what could unfold over the summer, particularly as the July rains pour down on crippled infrastructure. River blockages could starve large parts of the region of the water they depend on for irrigation.
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