The rising water level of an artificial lake formed as a result of a strong quake that caused widespread devastation in southwest China's Yunnan province is threatening residents with flooding, even as the death toll today rose to 615 with 114 still missing.
The 15-km-long and 49-square km lake near Longtoushan was formed when landslides blocked the Niulan River after the 6.5 magnitude quake hit the mountainous region on Sunday.
The lake has already inundated about 370 homes, officials said today.
Given the strong possibility of the lake completely bursting its banks, many locals have fled, and 4,200 residents have been resettled from the lower reaches of the river, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Quake relief authorities have said that the water level was rising at a speed of 0.16 meters per hour, projecting a rise of 3.84 meters per day.
However, the level rose by four to five metres in 24 hours, the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation has said.
The army has said it plans to use about two tonnes of dynamite to blow up the blockage which formed the lake.
Meanwhile, the death roll from the powerful quake rose to 615, four days after it devastated Yunnan Province.
Among the reported deaths, 526 were in the worst-hit Ludian County and 76 in Qiaojia County.
The quake has also caused a death in Zhaoyang District of Zhaotong City and another 12 deaths in Huize County of Qujing City, local quake relief headquarters said.
The official tally showed that in addition to the deaths, there were 114 missing and 3,143 people injured due to the quake.
The earthquake, the strongest to strike Yunnan in 14 years, affected over 1.08 million people in the cities of Zhaotong and Qujing.
The deadly quake was measured at level IX on the 12-level MMI (modified mercalli intensity) scale at its epicentre, the China Earthquake Administration announced today.
The earthquake was felt at or above level VI in an area of 10,350 kms, causing disasters in 10 counties in Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, according to the administration.
The earthquake was felt at level IX in an area of 90 kilometres around the epicentre which covers Longtoushan Township and Huodehong Township in Ludian County as well as Baogunao Village in Qiaojia County.
The MMI scale measures the intensity of an earthquake from its perceptible effects. The Richter scale, by comparison, measures the amount of energy released by seismic events.
Ranging from I to XII, a Level VI on the MMI indicates that the tremor could be felt by all in the area and is capable of causing minor structural damage.
At level IX, a quake can result in considerable damage to structures.