Nepalese officials say army soldiers and local villagers dug through rocks and boulders to drain a glacial lake just south of Mount Everest, bringing the water to a safe level and possibly preventing an outburst that could have flooded several villages.

Lt. Col. Bharat Lal Shrestha, who led the team of soldiers, said they were able to lower Imja Lake's level of water by 3.4 meters (11 feet), making it safe and for now averting the risk of outburst.

The 40 soldiers working with 100 villagers dug through boulders and rocks to build an outlet to drain out as much as 1 million cubic liters of water.

The lake, at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) altitude, is considered one of the most likely glacial lakes to have an outburst.