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Chinese Officials Order Residents to Evacuate from Area of 'Quake Lake'


Emergency workers in China's southwestern Sichuan province are working frantically to drain a so-called "quake lake" formed by this month's deadly earthquake in the region.

Authorities fear the Tangjiashan lake will overflow as a result of flooding and strong aftershocks, sending tons of water on the people living below.

More than 150,000 people have been evacuated from the area. China's official Xinhua news agency reported earlier Friday that authorities in Mianyang city had issued an evacuation order for more than one million people living downstream of the lake.

But local officials say the Xinhua report was incorrect, and that the order was part of an evacuation drill.

Authorities increased the official death toll from the earthquake to just over 68,850 earlier today. Nearly 20,000 others have been reported missing.

Officials have allocated millions of dollars to deal with more than 20 other lakes formed by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, Japan says it has decided against using its military to fly relief supplies to earthquake victims in China. Tokyo had considered using military aircraft for the mission, after receiving a request from Chinese officials. Japan's military has not deployed to China since it occupied much of the country during World War II.

In a separate development, Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine's Zhi Shuping investigating the quake damage says the government will take swift and serious measures against anyone who attempts to make money on the disaster by manufacturing substandard, inferior materials.

Xinhua reported Thursday that industries in Sichuan suffered more than $29 billion in damages.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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