CHINA> Regional
Mudslides and flood threaten to wipe out Beichuan
By Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-09-30 10:02

The ongoing mudslides and an anticipated flood could do what the Sichuan earthquake couldn't - wipe out Beichuan from the face of the earth.

As a result of heavy rains and incessant mudslides, the plan to rebuild quake-devastated Beichuan county in northern Sichuan province as an earthquake museum has been put on hold, a local official said.

Sitting on a cleft in the mountains, the ruins of the county flattened by the May 12 earthquake had originally been planned to be preserved as a memorial to more than 10,000 people who died there. But that seems increasingly unlikely as a large part of the county is now buried under the mudslides caused by unprecedented downpour since last Wednesday.

"If heavy rains and mudslides continue, Beichuan may soon disappear as the entire county may be buried or flooded," said Lin Chuan, head of local culture and tourist bureau on Monday.

Light rains and showers continued in the county on Monday.

Beichuan, which is traversed by the Jianjiang River, consists of an old town in the southwest and a new town in the northeast. Ever since the earthquake struck, the county has been evacuated and made off-limits.

Half of the old town has already been buried by mudslides. Only two roofs could be seen in the 1 sq km area. In some places, the mud is even more than 40 m deep.

As if the mudslides were not enough, there's a looming threat of floods as the mudslides from mountains have blocked the upper reaches of the river, Lin said.

"The best solution now would be to build a dam on the bank of the Jianjiang River in the new town," Lin said, stressing that protecting the new town is of utmost importance. But he said it is almost impossible to do so in such a short time, more so because it is dangerous to enter the area as rains continue to lash the county.