China to evacuate 80,000 more from 'quake lake'

Another 80,000 people will be urgently evacuated from around a dangerously swelling lake in China that was formed by earthquake-triggered landslides, state press reported on Tuesday.

Emergency workers are aiming to move the 80,000 people from their homes near the "quake lake" in Beichuan county of Sichuan province by midnight local time (1600 GMT) on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency said.

About 70,000 people have already been evacuated, Xinhua said.

The lake, now holding 130 million cubic metres of water, was created when the quake triggered landslides that blocked the Jian river.

If the lake's barrier fully opens, 1.3 million people would need to be relocated, Xinhua reported.

Troops armed with dynamite are aiming to break up some of the new lake's banks in an effort to release some of the water in a controlled manner.

The lake is inaccessible by road and the teams of soldiers, engineers and police had to hike through remote and mountainous terrain to reach it.

Helicopters also airlifted bulldozers and other heavy machinery into the region.

The site is one of about 35 "quake lakes" that could cause huge problems if they burst, authorities have said.

The May 12 earthquake, which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale, flattened entire towns and villages across an area of mountainous Sichuan province the size of South Korea.

The death toll from the disaster has reached 67,183, with another 20,790 people missing, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.