MIANYANG, China — Water poured from a massive lake formed by China's deadly earthquake in a carefully engineered diversion Saturday to ease the threat of flooding for a million people in the sprawling disaster zone.
After two weeks of frantic work by engineers and soldiers, waters flowed into the hurriedly built spillway, but at a rate too slow to cause the lake's level to drop. Military engineers dynamited boulders and soldiers used excavators to deepen the channel to accelerate the flow, state media said.
"The lake was still dangerous despite the draining,” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei as saying late Saturday.
The Tangjiashan lake, created when a landslide dammed the Tongkou River, has become a priority for a government, hoping to head off another catastrophe even as it cares for millions left homeless from the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 people.
More than 1.3 million people live down river from Tangjiashan, 250,000 of them have been evacuated.
The official death toll crept up Saturday to 69,134 people, with 17,681 still missing.