Dams in danger of collapsing, vice-minister says Cities and towns, including Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, are at risk of flooding to varying degrees because the devastating earthquake has left some reservoirs close to bursting and many others in serious danger. More than 1,000 others pose a lesser danger. The vast Zipingpu dam on the Min River also suffered damage. If it burst, the deluge would threaten the lives of 11 million people living on the Chengdu plain, but officials say it remains stable. The vice-minister of water resources, E Jingping, said the earthquake had damaged 2,380 dams - 1,803 of them located in Sichuan. He added that 803 hydraulic stations had been wrecked, among them 481 in Sichuan. 'Of the dams in Sichuan province where risks have appeared, 69 were in danger of collapsing,' Mr E said 69 damaged reservoirs had been emptied while 826 retained only a low level of water. It wasn't immediately clear whether the 69 drained dams were the same ones originally in danger of bursting. Temporary measures have been taken to strengthen 630 dams. Mr E said four generators from the Zipingpu dam had resumed operations and a damaged tunnel spillway had been repaired. He said experts were drafting plans to fix three of the damaged dams in the upper stream of the Min River while other damaged hydraulic power stations were in stable condition. The government was worried about the strength of the Zipingpu dam because it was crucial to the safety of the 11 million people living on the Chengdu plain. Mr E said the ministry of water resources and its provincial counterparts inspected the dam soon after the earthquake and found that it was stable, although some facilities had been damaged. He said in addition to the 69 dams that were close to busting, hundreds were in dangerous condition. 'Once these reservoirs burst, they will cause a serious threat to lives and properties downstream and affect the water supply for industrial, agricultural and domestic purposes,' he said. Mr E said the government would step up efforts to remove the potential danger of dams at high risk before the summer rainy season. Reservoirs of those vulnerable dams would be emptied or the hydraulic facilities would operate at a low water level, he said. Meanwhile, Mr E said more than a million people in Sichuan still faced a shortage of drinking water. He said 5.75 million people in the province faced such a shortage immediately after the quake, but 4.66 million now had access to drinking water - some through temporary measures such as disinfection, delivery of water by transport, or installation of small facilities for wells. He said the government was planning to provide safe drinking water to the remaining 1.09 million people in the coming week. He said the government would step up efforts to restore permanent water supply facilities such as pipes. Sichuan is one of the key provinces for hydraulic power, and experts have expressed deep worries about the safety of the dams and even wondered if the government had been playing down the potential danger to millions of people living downstream. The provision of clean drinking water is deemed essential to prevent epidemics - waterborne diseases are common after earthquakes because rivers and wells can be easily contaminated.