China: At least 20 dead, dozens missing in Yunnan landslide

  • By Fan Wang & Kelly Ng
  • BBC News

image source, Good pictures

image caption,

Rescuers in Zhenxiong District work in sub-zero temperatures

The death toll from a landslide in China's Yunnan province has risen to 20, with 24 missing.

The Zhaotong landslide hit at 05:51 local time (21:51 GMT) on Monday, trapping dozens of people.

Rescuers are racing against time and working in sub-zero temperatures to find those still missing, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Preliminary investigations show that the landslide was the result of a steep rock slide.

The collapsed mass was approximately 100 m (328 ft) wide, 60 m high and 6 m thick on average, Xinhua said, citing city officials.

More than 500 people were evacuated from their homes and nearly 1,000 rescue workers were dispatched to the area. President Xi Jinping ordered an “all-out” rescue in the area, while Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing reportedly led a team to the site to guide rescue operations.

“Search and rescue efforts continued throughout the night,” firefighter Li Shenglong told state news agency Xinhua.

One of the villagers told local media that most of the residents were elderly or children. Another resident told local news agency Jimu News that the landslide occurred on Monday morning while many were sleeping.

“It was really loud, and there was a shaking, it felt like a big earthquake,” he said.

Video clips shared on social media showed rescuers walking over the rubble against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Personal belongings are scattered among the collapsed buildings.

A remote, mountainous area in southwest China is prone to landslides. In January 2013, a landslide in the same district killed at least 18 people.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Wuxi District in China's Xinjiang at 02:00 local time on Tuesday. There were no casualties, but some houses were damaged and power was cut in some areas, state broadcaster CCTV said.

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