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More Than 100 People Possibly Buried by Landslide in China -- 4th Update

24 Jun 2017 5:12 pm
By Chao Deng 

BEIJING -- More than 100 people were missing after a deadly landslide that crashed into a mountain village in Sichuan province in southwestern China early Saturday.

Details of casualties were scarce. The official Xinhua News said 15 bodies had been recovered by rescue workers. Survivors include a couple and their baby, according to a statement on the website of the local county government.

Some 62 homes were buried by the landslide -- which had a volume of 8 million cubic meters, or about 282 million cubic feet -- and occurred at 5:45 a.m. following persistent rainfall, according to the Sichuan provincial government.

Mud blocked a section of two kilometers, or 1 1/4 mile, of a river in Xinmo village and about a mile of road, according to government statements and Xinhua.

Photos posted on the county government site and videos circulated by state media showed rescue workers struggling to move giant rocks, as well as excavator trucks on the scene. A video on the microblog account of state-run newspaper Sichuan Daily showed at least a dozen men tugging at a boulder in the rain.

More than 1,000 people were involved in the search-and-rescue effort Saturday, according to the Sichuan government. More than 110 villagers living near the rubble site were being evacuated in case of follow-on disasters, according to Xinhua.

The Sichuan government quoted geological experts saying the chance of finding survivors was slim.

Maoxian village is about 25 miles from Wenchuan county, the site of a devastating earthquake in 2008 that killed thousands of school children. State broadcaster China Central Television cited experts saying the 2008 earthquake may have created conditions that contributed to Saturday's landslide. It wasn't clear what geological assessments those statements were based on.

Maoxian was the site of another landslide, in July 2014, that killed 10 people, according to state media reports at that time.

A CCTV broadcast of the site at nightfall showed the rain had cleared and rescue crews fanning out in search.

Landslides are common this time of the year in mountainous areas prone to rainfall and flooding. Rainstorms battered the area in recent days, according to an employee in the news department of the Maoxian county government.

Man-made factors can also play a role in landslides.

In 2015, a 90-meter-high (295-foot-high) landfill collapsed, triggering a deadly landslide in the southern city of Shenzhen. Before the accident, a monitor had detailed months of safety lapses and sloppy work practices at the landfill in a series of reports.

--Kersten Zhang contributed to this article

Write to Chao Deng at Chao.Deng@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 24, 2017 13:12 ET (17:12 GMT)
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