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Night navigation resumes at Yangtze

The Yangtze River Administration of Navigational Affairs on Wednesday revoked the night navigation ban at the section of the river that has been threatened by a massive landslides.

An administration official said the decision was made because they believe the landslide at the rive section in Yunyang County, Chongqing Municipality, was not so dangerous at the moment as it had not experienced heavy rainfall.

The Three Gorges reservoir about 300 km downstream maintained the water level at about 160 meters, which helped reduce the erosion of the river bank, the official added.

However, the administration noted that navigation would be prohibited in the event of heavy rain in the region.

Waterway transportation had been suspended at night in the region since Sunday, as the soil erosion had worsened since March.

Eight coastguard vessels had been working on the river and no casualties or accidents had been reported.

Nearly 10,000 vessels pass through this section of the river each year -- about 300 vessels with 23,000 passengers per day.

A portion of the river's southern bank in Yunyang broke loose from the rest of the bank in November, when the cofferdams of the Three Gorges Dam tried to hold water at a depth of 175 meters.

According to the observation center, the soil in the landslide-prone area is estimated to be 3.6 million cubic meters, 1 million cubic meters of which is at risk of falling into the river. The landslide covers 100,000 square meters and is 35 meters deep on the average.

An expert panel from the Ministry of Land and Resources said Monday that the landslide, if falls into river, might cause waves of 5-10 meters high within 3-5 kilometers.

The 55 people in 11 families living on the slope during November's landslide were evacuated in December and now either live with relatives or rooms provided by the local government.

Sun Yimin, deputy tourism chief of Chongqing, said Wednesday travels to the Three Gorges were still safe at present.

(Xinhua News Agency April 9, 2009)