A barrier lake fills up after a landslide blocked the Yarlung Zangbo River in the Tibet autonomous region on Wednesday. No casualties were reported, and more than 6,000 people were evacuated. (Photo/Xinhua)
More than 6,000 people were evacuated and more will follow after a barrier lake was formed following a landslide that blocked the Yarlung Tsangpo River in the Tibet autonomous region on Wednesday morning. Its water level continues to rise, local authorities said on Thursday.
The landslide struck around 5 am on Wednesday near Gyalha village in Manling county, plugging the river that originates in Tibet and flows to India, according to the regional emergency response department.
By 7 am on Thursday, the water level of the lake had risen to 59 meters, and the amount of water reached 360 million cubic meters. The water level had been rising at an average speed of about one meter an hour from midnight to 7 am, the department said around noon.
More than 20,000 people in Manling and Medog counties were affected by the barrier lake and more people will be evacuated due to the risk of the barrier lake bursting.
The regional government has activated the highest level of emergency response for geological disasters and evacuated 6,000 residents.
The Ministry of Water Resources also required the regional government to provide hourly information of the water level of the Yarlung Tsangpo River at observation stations upstream and downstream of the barrier lake to Indian authorities.
A 12-member local work team consisting of hydrological and geological experts had arrived at the site by Wednesday. A six-member team sent by the Ministry of Natural Resources arrived at Menling county around 8 am on Thursday, the regional emergency response department said.
Wu Yingjie, Party chief of Tibet, urged the authorities to closely monitor the barrier lake and issue warnings on possible disasters. He also required them to evacuate residents who are threatened by the disaster.
It was the region's second major geological disaster less in a week. On Oct 11, the Jinsha River, in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, was blocked by a landslide, creating a barrier lake in Chamdo.
Water from upstream has burst through the blockade in the Jinsha River, causing the water level in the barrier lake to drop significantly, signaling an easing of risks for the lower reaches of the river. But the Ministry of Emergency Management warned on Saturday that the possibility of another landslide near the first landslide site has grown.