Tuesday, June 29, 2010

China struggles to save 107 buried in landslide

In this photo released by China's  Xinhua News Agency, workers labor at the breach site of a dike at the  Changkai section of the Fuhe River, in Fuzhou City, east China's Jiangxi  Province, Sunday, June 27, 2010. Floodwaters began receding in hard-hit  southern China on Sunday and workers finished repairing the dike breach  that forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.
Hundreds of rescuers in southwest China struggled in treacherous conditions Tuesday to pull out 107 people buried in a landslide, but said there was only a "slim" chance of finding survivors.

Around 600 rescuers were searching through the mud and debris for signs of life in Dazhai village in Guizhou province, local government spokeswoman Pi Yingfang told AFP, a day after the landslide.

"The rescue is under way but it's still raining hard and the local terrain is complex, which is affecting the rescue process," said Pi, who represents the authorities in Guanling county.

State television showed rescuers walking on a wide, thick trail of mud that appeared to have almost entirely covered houses in its wake, and diggers had arrived at the scene to begin sifting through the dirt and rocks.

More than 100,000 cubic metres of mud and rocks, the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools, had fallen on the houses, the official People's Daily newspaper said.

The landslide was the latest weather-related disaster to hit China, which has suffered from floods and landslides for more than two weeks since summer downpours have pounded parts of the nation's south, east and centre.

So far this month, at least 235 people have died and more than 100 have gone missing in rain-related accidents, according to China's civil affairs ministry.

Millions more have had to flee their homes and authorities said Sunday that nearly 69 million people had been affected.

The local rescue headquarters in Guanling said the victims had a "slim" chance of survival, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Villager Cen Chaoyang said he had managed to escape his house when he heard the landslide.

"I called for the others to flee, but it was too late. I saw some people behind me being buried," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Rescuers had to run five kilometres (three miles) to reach the site, which was initially inaccessible by car, and were forced to halt the search late Monday over fears of more landslides, the official China Daily newspaper said.

The National Meteorological Centre said authorities needed to strengthen inspections of areas where geological disasters could occur in China's rain-soaked south to prevent similar deadly accidents from happening.

This year's floods are among the worst in the southern part of the country since 1998, when more than 3,600 people were killed and over 20 million displaced, Xinhua said.

At least 379 people have died in flooding in China this year, the government said at the weekend, putting economic losses at 82.4 billion yuan (12.1 billion dollars).

Source http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gYHebfiRg9OoQTADbrPV3MBe8NCQ

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