At Least 10 Dead, More Than 90 Missing After Landslide In Southwest China

Jun 24, 2017
Originally published on June 25, 2017 8:52 am

Updated 8:51 a.m. ET Sunday

More than 90 people remain missing after rescuers found 10 bodies among the debris of a landslide in the town of Xinmo in southwest China's Sichuan province that happened Saturday.

Local officials had first estimated more than 120 people and 62 homes were buried under tons of rubble.

Rescuers have found at least 10 bodies, authorities said Sunday, contradicting earlier reports from Chinese state news agency Xinhua that 15 people were confirmed dead.

The 3,000-strong rescue team, armed with "life-detection instruments and sniffer dogs," continued to search for survivors, though experts say the chances for survival are low.

Xinhua said the government posted the names of missing people online Sunday.

Rescuers had pulled out at least three people on Saturday, Xinhua reported.

"We won't give up as long as there is a slim of chance," said an unidentified rescuer, according to the news agency.

A family of three managed to escape the disaster after an infant in the home woke up crying half an hour before the landslide hit their house, the father, Qiao Dashuai, tells the news agency.

All 142 tourists visiting the site are alive, says Xu Zhiwen, executive deputy governor of the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, where the landslide struck.

The landslide fell from "a high part of a mountain" nearby, Xinhua reports. "It's a seismic area here," police captain Chen Tiebo told the state television network CCTV, according to the BBC.

About 635 million cubic feet of rock tumbled down the mountain, The Associated Press reports, some of it falling from a mile above.

"Initial accounts from villagers nearby said there had been rain in the area, but some said it was not very heavy and there was no sign of an impending landslide," Schmitz reports.

More children than usual may have been in the town because China's schools are on vacation, he adds.

The landslide fell around 6 a.m. local time Saturday, Xinhua says, and also blocked a section of a nearby river and buried about a mile of a road.

The news agency said the regional government had approved about $730,000-worth of rescue funding.

A massive earthquake hit the Sichuan province in 2008, which left about 90,000 dead or missing, and the BBC notes it also caused a landslide that killed 37 tourists.

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