A top official in charge of the Three Gorges Dam has rejected academic reports that last May's earthquake in Sichuan may have been linked to the construction of a giant reservoir next to a fault line. The remarks by Wang Xiaofeng, director of the State Council's Three Gorges Project Construction Committee's executive office, were the first official response to separate studies by Chinese and United States geophysicists that caused a worldwide stir. The mainland paper, published in December by five scientists from the China Earthquake Administration and its Sichuan provincial bureau, produced new data that linked the construction of the Zipingpu reservoir to the magnitude 8 quake, which left more than 88,000 people dead. The paper, included in Geology and Seismology, a journal sponsored by the national earthquake authority, cited seismic data from 2004 - when the reservoir began to fill - until May last year. It said the reservoir, built almost on top of the fault line, caused major seismic changes before the quake struck on May 12. Mr Wang said the theory linking earthquakes to big dams nearby had not been scientifically proved around the world. 'Despite statistics showing that the frequency and intensity of minor earthquakes have been on the rise after the Three Gorges reservoir began filling, there is no way of proving the tremors are triggered by its impoundment,' Mr Wang said on the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference yesterday. 'The possibility of a link between the quake and the Zipingpu dam is even more remote.' There has been intense speculation about the connection between the quake and the 156-metre high dam. Supporters of the theory stressed the fact that the reservoir, which holds up to 320 million tonnes of water when full, was only 5.5km from the quake's epicentre. The paper said the millions of tonnes of water in the reservoir 'clearly affected local seismicity'. The findings have been extensively reported by world media and were quoted by Science magazine in January. Mainland officials and government-linked academics had previously routinely denied any possible quake-dam link, while withholding key data - especially seismic information from local monitoring stations at the reservoir. Mr Wang said the paper could not represent official views of the China Earthquake Administration. 'It is their personal opinions at most,' he said. The mainland scientists' findings were supported however by a separate study by a Columbia University scientist, who also found significant seismic changes had been caused by the dam before the earthquake. Fan Xiao, one of the first mainland geologists to raise questions over the possible link between the earthquake and the reservoir, said that preliminary research and findings, although premature to prove the theory, had confirmed the possibility there was a connection. 'Although it is far from a final conclusion, the findings based on scientific research and official data, and the possible disastrous impact of the quake-dam link are good enough for us to demand further investigation,' he said.