By Christian Shepherd
BEIJING More than 100 Chinese villagers were feared dead on Saturday, 17 hours after a landslide buried their homes in southwest China as a day of searching by rescuers uncovered just six bodies, according to state media.The landslide swept over more than 60 homes as dawn broke in Xinmo, a remote village in north Sichuan province. Rubble slid 800 metres (half a mile) down a steep slope to block a two-kilometre stretch of river and 1.6 kilometres of road, official state news agency Xinhua said.It said more than a thousand were involved in the rescue effort, including more than a hundred medical staff. But state broadcaster CCTV reported that by midday only three people had been pulled from the rubble: a couple and their two-month-old baby. Another child of the family remained buried.Some 112 were believed still missing in the latest count, according to Xinhua. Authorities had previously stated 141 people could not be reached.
Photos from the official People's Daily showed rescue efforts continuing after nightfall using torches, and it said rescuers were trying to reach two people they believe they had heard trapped beneath the rubble.State television reports showed villagers and rescuers scrambling over mounds of mud and rocks that had slid down the mountainside.
Television images showed water thick with mud flowing over the site, submerging a car pushed from the road, while police and residents pulled on ropes to try to dislodge large boulders.Police have closed roads in the county to all traffic except emergency services, the news agency said.There is an extensive network of dams in the area, which is close to the region of Tibet, including two hydropower plants in Diexi town near the buried village.
A researcher from the Chengdu Chinese Academy of Social Science, a state-backed think tank, told China Radio International that heavy rainfall probably caused the slide. The researcher, who the radio did not name, also warned of the risk that a dam could collapse, endangering communities further downstream.The area is prone to earthquakes, including one in 1933 that resulted in parts of Diexi town becoming submerged by a nearby lake, and an 8.0 magnitude tremor in central Sichuan's Wenchuan county in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people. (Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and John Stonestreet)
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Updated Date: Jun 24, 2017 21:54 PM