11/23/2007, 00.00
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Landslide in Three Gorges Dam kills 30

Bus with the bodies of 30 people killed in a landslide on Tuesday is found today. The government minimises the environmental impact of a project which has already forced the evacuation of five million people.

Badong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tuesday’s landslide near China’s Three Gorges Dam killed another 30 people who were travelling on a bus. Rescue workers are working to get the bus out, but local officials have few hopes to find anyone still alive.

Just yesterday though, the central government tried to downplay the event.

“The impact has not gone beyond the scope predicted in a 1991 feasibility report. In some aspects, it is not as severe as predicted,” said Wang Xiaofeng, director of the central government’s Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, in response to charges that the whole project is an environmental disaster.

Despite the statement, the landslide has left a 50-metre scar on the mountain in Badong County, in the central province of Hubei, one of the hilliest areas touched by the new dam.

Local residents have said that the area has experienced more tremors and landslides as water levels in the reservoir rose. Rising water levels are putting pressure on previously dry slopes, weakening hillsides and creating splits.

Construction of the dam began in 1994 after years of controversy. For many environmental scientists the project was in fact a dangerous folly.

Government plans expect the dam to reach a capacity of 39.3 billion m3. For this purpose, which should increase China’s energy output, some five million people have been relocated. But for activists the environmental costs are immeasurable.

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