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At least 42 dead after landslide in the Southwest China
Publication Date : 12-01-2013
Top leaders mobilise resources to offer urgent help to Yunnan
At least 42 people have been confirmed dead with another four still missing after a massive landside engulfed a village in Southwest China's Yunnan province yesterday morning.
The disaster struck Gaopo at around 8am.
The village is in the city of Zhaotong, Zhenxiong county, about 550 kilometres from the provincial capital of Kunming.
Top leaders Xi Jinping, Wen Jiabao and Li Keqiang immediately ordered every resource possible to be mobilised to help with the rescue of victims.
Party chief Xi Jinping said every effort must be made to resettle affected residents and prevent secondary disasters.
He has also asked disaster relief agencies to offer full psychological support to affected residents.
A group headed by Minister of Land and Resources Xu Shaoshi and composed of leaders from various government departments, including the land and resources, civil affairs, transport and health ministries, has been dispatched by the State Council to the disaster area to direct relief work.
Zhai Yulong, head of Zhenxiong county, said the landslide smashed the homes of all 16 families in the village and that four people are still believed to be trapped under tons of mud and rocks.
He said the flattened houses were of simple adobe and brick structures.
"Two rescued survivors have been sent to Zhenxiong County People's Hospital for treatment, and we are trying our best to rescue those still buried," Zhai said.
Immediately after the accident, the local government launched an emergency response involving more than 1,000 rescuers, including local police and firefighters, who rushed to the site. Others were also rushed in from nearby regions to assist.
Zhai said the rescue will be difficult, given the size of the area affected, poor local road conditions, and the depth of the houses that have been buried.
The village is in the northern part of Zhaotong, located at the foot of a mountain in what is considered the coldest part of Yunnan province.
At this time of year, temperatures are low, and nearby mountains are covered with snow.
A policeman at the scene, who declined to give his name, said: "Although we have 10 digging machines working on the rescue, due to the cold weather and the large volumes of mud involved, there is little possibility of their survival."
Local authorities have provided 50 tents at the disaster area, with quilts and clothing for affected villagers, according to Zhenxiong county officials.
The national disaster reduction, and civil affairs departments said they had sent experts to Zhaotong to guide the disaster relief work.
Zhenxiong county is adjacent to Yiliang county, where 19 people, including 18 primary school students, were killed in a landslide in October. In September, a series of earthquakes struck the region, leaving at least 81 people dead in Yiliang.
A cold front is expected to move toward the region over the coming week, bringing rain and snow to Zhenxiong county, according to the Yunnan provincial meteorological bureau.
Xinhua contributed to this story.