BEIJING (AP) -- China plans to turn a huge lake formed from the Sichuan earthquake disaster into a tourist destination, a state news agency reported Tuesday.
Scientists are assessing how to best develop Tangjiashan lake into a scenic spot, Chen Xingchun, secretary-general of the Communist Party Committee of Mianyang city, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.
The government will also rebuild Beichuan county - just downstream from the newly formed lake - in a new location because the county seat was devastated by the temblor, Chen said. No decision has been made on where to rebuild.
Chen said the development of Tangjiashan lake into a scenic spot would be "an important part of rebuilding Beichuan county."
Beichuan and its surrounding areas, with feature lush bamboo forests, panda reserves and diverse ethnic minorities, have traditionally been popular tourist destinations.
The lake in northern Sichuan province was formed when the May 12 earthquake sliced off a side of a mountain, sending it plunging down a valley were it blocked a river.
Earlier this month more than 250,000 people were evacuated because of worries that the lake would overflow and flood areas downstream.
Of the 34 'quake lakes,' Tangjiashan is largest and one of 27 no longer considered dangerous by the Sichuan provincial Department of Water Resources.
The report did not give details of the proposed development plans.
Officials at the Mianyang city government could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The 7.9 magnitude quake killed more than 69,000 people, although Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu was quoted Tuesday by Xinhua as saying the death toll would exceed 80,000 because more than 18,000 are still missing.