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  • Landslide in China 707 killed, 1042 missing in

    Published on August 11, 2010

    The devastated Zhouqu County of China counted its dead as the toll in the worst landslide to hit the region more than doubled to 702 with over a 1000 more missing, while another mudslide in the neighbouring Shaanxi province claimed five lives.

    As the figure of the dead shot up, 1,042 persons were still missing in Gansu Province’s Zhouqu County, where rescuers scrambled hard through thick layers of mud and rocks in a round-the-clock operation to find possible survivors.

    Another landslide hit the northwestern Shaanxi Province leaving five people dead and eight injured. The disaster occurred in Changwu County after hours of torrential rain last night, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said. While two people died under collapsed cave homes and courtyard walls, three died after being washed away by the mudslide.

    Citing officials, state-run Xinhua news agency said the toll from the massive rain-triggered mudslides in Zhouqu county in Gansu since Sunday had climbed to 702 this afternoon.  

    Xinhua had earlier said that 337 people had died so far.

    As relief operations picked up speed to clear the debris, a 52-year-old Tibetan man was pulled alive from the rubble of a toppled apartment building, more than 50 hours after the landslides levelled the county.

    The man named Liu Ma Shindan was rescued from the ruins of a residential building and doctors said his heart rate and breathing were normal, but he was too weak to speak. A 74-year-old lady was rescued yesterday in similar circumstances.

    Rescuers hoped that survivors might still be buried in the debris and kept searching for them over the past 24 hours. However, they retrieved four bodies from the same site.

    More than 7,000 troops were battling through sludge and rubble in a round-the-clock operation to find survivors as a total of 1,042 people were still missing. At least 30 per cent of the local population is Tibetan.

    Meanwhile, Minister of Land and Resources Xu Shaoshi said the mudslides could have been caused by the county’s weathered terrain, which was also affected the massive earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province in 2008 that shook the mountains around Zhouqu.

    He also said that sustained drought and soil erosion in the region since last winter had been accentuated by torrential rains lasting for more than 40 minutes on Saturday night before the mudslides fell.