Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

Landslide buries mountain village in China

Fifteen deaths confirmed and more than 100 missing after landslide in Sichuan province.
Chinese police, soldiers, rescue workers and civilians search through the site of a landslide in Xinmo village, Sichuan province, on June 24, 2017. AFP
Chinese police, soldiers, rescue workers and civilians search through the site of a landslide in Xinmo village, Sichuan province, on June 24, 2017. AFP

Beijing // At least 15 people were found dead and more than 100 were missing after a massive landslide buried a mountain village in south-west China on Saturday morning.

A couple and a baby were rescued and taken to hospital after dozens of homes in the village of Xinmo were swallowed by boulders when the side of the mountain collapsed, according to the local government of Mao county in Sichuan province.

Fifteen bodies were recovered by Saturday evening and 112 people remained missing, officials said. State media had earlier revised the number of missing people down from 141 to more than 120.

The early morning landslide, which followed days of heavy rain in the region, struck 62 homes and blocked a two-kilometre stretch of river and 1.6km of road, according to state media.

Rescuers used ropes to move a massive rock while dozens of others, aided by dogs, searched the rubble for survivors. Bulldozers and heavy diggers were also deployed to remove boulders, spotlights set up to continue the search after sunset. Nearly 2,000 police, soldiers and civilians were taking part in the rescue.

“It’s the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” said Wang Yongbo, one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts.

The 2008 disaster killed 87,000 people in a town in Sichuan.

Local police captain Chen Tiebo said there were “several tonnes of rock” over the village.

“It’s a seismic area here. There’s not a lot of vegetation,” he said.

Trees can help absorb excess rain and prevent landslides.

Tao Jian, director of the local weather service, said the 2008 earthquake had weakened the mountain and that “a weak rain can provoke a geological catastrophe”.

China’s weather observatory said more heavy rain was expected in parts of Sichuan and other south-western provinces.

Landslides are a constant danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly during heavy rainfall.

At least 12 people were killed in January when a landslide crushed a hotel in central Hubei province.

In October torrential rains brought by Typhoon Megi triggered landslides in eastern China, causing widespread damage and killing at least eight.

More than 70 were killed in a landslide in the southern commercial hub of Shenzhen in December 2015, caused by the improper storage of waste.

One of the deadliest landslides occurred in 1991, when 216 people were killed in south-western Yunnan province.

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: June 24, 2017 04:00 AM

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