China hopes to turn a dangerous “quake lake” that once threatened up to 1.3 million lives into a tourist spot as part of rebuilding efforts in its quake-hit southwest, state press said Tuesday.
The Tangjiashan lake was the biggest of several lakes created when the May 12 earthquake struck Sichuan province, triggering landslides that blocked rivers and led to the build up of large bodies of water.
Early relief and rescue work following the 8.0-magnitude quake, which left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing, were hampered by the possibility that the quake lakes would burst and bring further misery to millions of survivors downstream.
Now Chinese officials in the region are seeking to profit by developing the lakes into tourist spots, especially in Beichuan county, one of the hardest hit areas, Xinhua news agency said.
“The scientific development of the quake lakes will be an important part of the rebuilding plan of new Beichuan,” Chen Xingchuan, head of the Communist Party’s Beichuan Rebuilding Committee was quoted as saying.
“As part of our probe to find a scientific way to use the quake lakes, we want to turn the Tangjiashan quake lake into a tourist spot,” he said, adding the plan was still in its early stages.
Xinhua said there were up to 14 quake lakes in Beichuan county.
For weeks, the build-up of water behind the Tangjiashan quake lake threatened up to 1.3 million people living downstream in the densely populated Mianyang region.
The controlled breaching of the lake earlier this month was trumpeted as a huge relief operation success by state leaders and the media.