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A villager walks in his flooded yard in Hongdong county, Shanxi province, on Sunday. More than 10,000 people were evacuated from their flooded homes after the irrigation water pipeline of Quting Reservoir in the county caved in on Friday. Su Qiang / Xinhua
Would-be travelers wait to have their tickets refunded at Linfen Railway Station in Shanxi province after eight train trips were suspended and 13 routes changed after flooding destroyed the tracks. Yan Ruipeng / for China Daily
Reservoir collapse caused railway suspension, evacuation of 10,000
A partly collapsed reservoir in Shanxi province had been drained of all water as of Sunday, with more than 10,000 residents evacuated from their flooded homes.
The irrigation water pipeline of Quting Reservoir in Hongdong county caved in at about 7 am on Friday, causing about 300 meters of the 460-meter dam walls to collapse at about 10 am on Saturday, said Dong Jie, a publicity official from Linfen city government.
There was 18 million cubic meters of water in the reservoir, all of which drained into the nearby Fenhe River by Sunday, Dong said.
Residents in 19 villages of three townships were evacuated from their homes after the local government declared an emergency on Friday. Most residents returned their homes on Sunday because the water had already run into the river.
No casualties were reported as of Sunday evening.
The reservoir was built in 1959, and the dam walls were reinforced in 2004 to improve safety.
The cause of the collapse remains unclear, but some news reports quoted local officials who suggested it may have been caused by an old irrigation water duct.
Yang Jie, a resident in Dananzhuang village, 98 km away from the reservoir, said he had to seek shelter in his neighbor's van on higher ground for hours on Friday night, after being woken up by village officials.
"Hundreds of villagers rode bicycles to higher places and others drove fully loaded vehicles to their relatives' homes at midnight," he said.
The Quting Reservoir has been providing irrigation water to more than 6,700 hectares of farmland since its completion, and the flood is likely to affect the growth of nearby crops, said Dong, the publicity official.
The flood destroyed about 1.4 km of railway track downstream of the dam. On Saturday, eight train services were suspended and 13 routes were changed, the Taiyuan railways bureau said on its micro blog.
More than 5,000 rescuers were dispatched to repair the railways. Service on a section of the railway linking Hongdong and Linfen resumed at 4 pm on Sunday, and a passenger train passed the section at around 8 pm, according to Taiyuan railways bureau. All other suspended trains will be resumed later, the bureau said.
Rumors about the flood spread on some online forums on Friday and Saturday because the local government did not issue authoritative information in a timely manner.
There was no information about the flood on the websites of both Hongdong county and Linfen city as of Sunday afternoon, triggering public criticism on micro blogs.
Many netizens questioned the quality of the reservoir's dam walls.
According to a news report on Shanxi provincial water department's website, the Quting Reservoir was graded as being of good quality in May 2008. The reinforcement of the reservoir cost 28.99 million yuan ($4.65 million).
However, the news report was later deleted from the department's website, and China Daily's phone calls to Shanxi provincial water department went unanswered on Sunday.
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(China Daily 02/18/2013 page3)