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Copter carrying 14 crashes in China

From the Associated Press

A military transport helicopter crashed in China’s earthquake-devastated south-central region with 14 people aboard, the official news agency said today.

The New China News Agency’s report gave no word on any survivors or casualties. The report said the helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon in fog and strong turbulence.

The aircraft was carrying a crew of four and 10 people who had been injured in the earthquake. The news agency said a search and rescue operation was underway.

In Mianyang, Chinese authorities prepared to begin draining a swelling earthquake-formed lake today after evacuating nearly 200,000 people and warning more than 1 million others to be ready to leave quickly.

Tangjiashan lake was formed above the town of Beichuan in the Mianyang region of Sichuan province when a hillside plunged into a valley during the May 12 quake, damming a river.

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Authorities fear the dam could burst, endangering hundreds of thousands of people.

The New China News Agency said work on a runoff channel from Tangjiashan had been completed. It quoted Yue Xi, deputy chief of the water and electricity section of the People’s Armed Police, as saying the channel “is expected to discharge flood water” today through Tuesday.

Tangjiashan is the largest of more than 30 lakes that have been formed by landslides caused by the quake.

The confirmed death toll from the earthquake was raised Saturday to 68,977. An additional 17,974 people were still missing, authorities said.


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