Soldiers completed the work digging a 475m channel from the lake on Saturday, five days ahead of schedule. Work involved removing approximately 135,500m3 of rocks and mud to leave the channel, which was up to 10m wide. Seven monitoring posts were also set up around the lake to monitor changes in the water level.

The lake is currently holding nearly 200Mm3 of water, with the level rising approximately 1.2m daily. Experts are however expecting this rise to slow as little rain has been forecast over the next few days.

Work to drain the lake will now begin tomorrow, with the actual timing decided by water inflows from the lakes upper reaches, reports in local media suggest.

If plans to drain the water off are unsuccessful and the whole blockage is washed away, 1.2M people in Sichuan province would need to be relocated.

In other news, as part of the on-going disaster relief for areas battered by the earthquake, the country has decided to form a post-quake reconstruction planning group consisting of members of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Sichuan provincial government and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

According to Mu Hong, NDRC_deputy head, the planning group would make assessments on related geological conditions and decide locations for reconstruction projects based on research and scientific evidence. It would also organise professionals to formulate reconstruction plans and detailed implementation schemes.

Funds for such work would likely come from central and local governments, enterprises, institutions and individuals.