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China landslides: 707 killed, 1042 missing

The devastated Zhouqu County of China counted its dead on Tuesday 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.



Beijing: The devastated Zhouqu County of
China counted its dead on Tuesday 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 last night 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 last night 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.

A total of 218 people had been treated for their
wounds and 41 severely injured airlifted to the provincial
capital Lanzhou, some 650 kms from Zhouqu.

About 45,000 residents had been evacuated as the
mudslides destroyed more than 300 homes and damaged another
700. Moreover, 3,000 homes had been flooded.

Families of the deceased will be given a special
pension of 8,000 yuan (USD 1,181) for each death, Chen
Jianhua, the ruling Communist Party chief in Gannan Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture, which runs the affairs of Zhouqu, told
the media.

Torrential rains on Saturday night had triggered an
avalanche of sludge and debris to crash down on the county
seat of Zhouqu, ripping houses off their foundations and
tearing six-story apartment buildings in half.

The mud-rock flow levelled an area which was five km
long, 300 metres wide and 5 metres deep in the county seat,
with more than two million cubic metres of mud and rocks,
severely damaging telecommunication lines, power and water
supply facilities.

Yueyuan village, which sits at the foot of craggy
mountains, was reduced to a mess of yellow slush and debris
with not a single structure left standing.

"It was not raining very heavily in the county seat
Saturday night. We didn`t know that torrents were crashing
down from the mountains," said He Xinchao, a survivor.

"Before I realised what was happening, the house was
gone."

His 11-member family was reduced to two.

"Just me and my son (are left)," he said.

Relief materials, including tents, food and water, are
pouring into the disaster-hit region, officials said.

Local authorities have sent more than 5,400 tents, 230
generators, 31,700 boxes of instant noodles, 18,300 boxes of
bottled water and 21,400 cotton-padded quilts for survivors,
they said.

PTI

From Zee News

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