Over 140 people were feared buried today after a massive landslide smashed into their homes in southwest China’s Sichuan Province after which rescuers frantically scoured through the rubble for survivors. The landslide from a high part of a mountain in Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba hit Xinmo Village in Maoxian County at about 6 AM, blocking a 2 km section of a river and burying 1,600 metres of road. The landslide smashed into 46 homes, where about 141 people were feared to be buried. State television showed large groups of rescuers trying to scour through the mud and rocks to find survivors. A family of three was pulled out alive from the rubble, the Mao County government said on its official Weibo page.
The couple and their baby are being treated at the Mao County People’s Hospital, the post said. It did not provide further details on their identities. Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out efforts to save people buried in the landslide. The provincial government has launched the highest level of disaster relief response and sent rescue teams to the site, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. More than 300 rescuers carrying excavation and life- detection instruments were rushed to the site, said Tang Limin, spokesperson of Sichuan provincial government.
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Pictures posted by the People’s Daily newspaper showed bulldozers moving earth and large boulders as the rescue efforts continued. Local police told state broadcaster CCTV that the landslide had been triggered by recent heavy rains in the region and that the situation was made worse by a lack of vegetation in the area. “There are several tonnes of rock,” police captain Chen Tiebo told the broadcaster, adding that, “It’s a seismic area here.” Roads in the county were closed to all traffic except emergency services.
Landslides are a regular danger in mountainous regions of China, especially during heavy rains. In 2008, 87,000 people were killed when an earthquake struck Wenchuan county in Sichuan province. In Maoxian county, 37 tourists were killed when their coach was buried in a landslide caused by the earthquake.