Chinese authorities are nearly ready to drain water threatening more than a million people that backed up following the May 12 earthquake.

Final preparations are nearly complete to drain a lake created by landslides to reduce the threat of flooding in Sichuan province.

Emergency personnel have built a drainage system to control water from the swelling Tangjiashan lake. Authorities say they could start draining the lake as soon as Sunday.

The official Xinhua news agency says nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area and more than a million others could be moved to higher ground if the lake overflows.

Xinhua says relief workers handling the Tangjiashan lake situation began to evacuate residents by helicopter Saturday.

The new lake is one of more than 30 created when landslides triggered by the earthquake and its aftershocks blocked rivers.

Chinese meteorologists Friday predicted no heavy rain in quake-hit areas for the next 10 days.

Officials on Friday increased the official death toll from the earthquake to nearly 69,000. About 20,000 others are reported missing.

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