Beijing: Flooding, landslides and torrents of mud have killed 50 people in southern China and the government has evacuated thousands of people from homes near an overfilled, leaking reservoir, officials and state media said.
The Wenquan reservoir in northwestern Qinghai province is holding more than three times its safe capacity -- over 230 million cubic meters of water when it was designed for a maximum of 70 million the Xinhua news agency said.
If it bursts, the city of Golmud, around 130 km (80 miles) away and home to more than 200,000 people, could be flooded with water up to 4 meters (yards) deep in some areas. More than 9,000 people in immediate danger have already been evacuated.
Power and water plants are at risk, and the high-altitude railway to Tibet is some 40 km (25 miles) away so could also be affected, Xinhua said, citing the local government.
The reservoir has been badly maintained because the area is usually prone to drought. Water levels are still rising because of snowmelt in nearby mountains, and heavy rains are forecast for Sunday night and Monday, Xinhua added.
In south China, more than 17 million people spread across nine provinces have been affected by downpours since the start of July, the ministry said in a statement on its website (www.mca.gov.cn), with 50 people dead, and 15 missing.
Some 42,000 homes have collapsed, and another 121,000 damaged and hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops have been spoilt or destroyed. Early estimates put the cost of the rains as high as 8.9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion).