Chinese experts have called for further reinforcement of work to prevent geological disasters in the Three Gorges Reservoir areas.
Their appeal followed the start last weekend of flooding of the vast Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River -- the world's biggest hydroelectric project.
The Three Gorges section of the river valley, though a famous tourist destination, has been frequently plagued by natural disasters due to its peculiar geological conditions.
Since 1982, banks along the Three Gorges have been hit by over 70 landslides and mud-rock flows.
"The first-phase water storage currently underway is a test forthe prevention and treatment work against geological disasters," said Liu Yuan, deputy director of the Geological Environment Department with the Ministry of Land and Resources.
The 5,300-km reservoir circumference extending from the trunk stream to branches of the river was likely to experience geological disasters if the banks broke down under the pressure ofthe filled water, Liu said.
"The disasters would jeopardize not only the security of the dam, but also the safety of the reservoir residents and major infrastructures, without effective control measures," Liu said.
In the past two years, China has devoted four billion yuan (484million US dollars) in 278 projects on preventing and controlling landslides or bank collapses that might have negative impacts on water filling.
Experts considered that reservoir areas should further strengthen monitoring of these projects and make preparations for immediate reaction to probable disasters.