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Hopes Fading in China for 118 Still Missing Day After Landslide


Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a landslide that occurred in Xinmo Village, Mao County, Sichuan province, China, June 24, 2017.

Rescue workers in China searched for 118 people still missing more than 24 hours after a landslide buried a mountain village, with hopes fading on Sunday after 15 bodies were pulled out of the rock and mud during the first day of the search.

A couple and their two-month-old baby were found alive in the hours after the massive landslide crashed down on the village of Xinmo, in the southwest province of Sichuan as dawn broke on Saturday. But there was no news of any other survivors being found.

Authorities had not updated an overnight toll of 15 confirmed dead, but geological experts said that chances of survival for the missing were slim, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.

At risk from more landslides in the area, a massive rescue effort involving more than 3,000 rescue workers was underway, Xinhua reported.

The names of the missing were posted on government websites, it said.

Heavy rain triggered the landslide, authorities said, although further light showers expected today and Monday were not expected to affect search efforts, CCTV reported.

More than 3,000 people — police, soldiers and civilians — are participating in the rescue efforts, according to officials, and have been working nonstop to search through the rocks and rubble for survivors.

Rescuers and local residents used ropes to move a boulder while dozens of others, aided by dogs to sniff out humans, searched the rubble for survivors, according to videos posted online by the Maoxian government and state broadcaster CCTV.

Rescue personnel work at the site of a landslide that destroyed more than 60 households, where more than 100 people are feared to be buried, according to local media reports, in Xinmo Village, China, June 24, 2017.
Rescue personnel work at the site of a landslide that destroyed more than 60 households, where more than 100 people are feared to be buried, according to local media reports, in Xinmo Village, China, June 24, 2017.

Bulldozers and heavy diggers also have been deployed to remove boulders, while villagers and soldiers lifted rocks with their bare hands. Rescuers brought spotlights to continue the search after sunset. Medics were seen treating a woman on a road.

No sign of the village could be seen in aerial footage, which revealed a grim and grey rock-strewn landscape covering that part of southwestern China where a river had flowed.

"It's the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake," said Wang Yongbo, one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts, referring to the disaster that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan.

Authorities say the landslide was caused by torrential rain, and the cascading debris of mud and rocks blocked a 2-kilometer stretch of a river and a 1.6-kilometer section of a road, according to local officials.

Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly after heavy rains.

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