21 Dec 2015

Hundreds search for Shenzhen landslide survivors

6:52 pm on 21 December 2015

Hundreds of rescue workers are looking for survivors after a landslide hit 33 buildings in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Rescuers hunt for survivors after a landslide flattened buildings in Shenzhen, in south China's Guangdong province.

Rescuers look for survivors after the landslide smothered buildings in Shenzhen. Photo: AFP

Seven people were pulled from the rubble with minor injuries but 91 people are still missing, according to Shenzhen authorities.

About 900 people were evacuated from the industrial park as the landslide struck on Sunday.

The city is one of China's biggest and is a major industrial centre.

It is situated in the southern province of Guangdong, across the mainland border from Hong Kong.

The landslide has blanketed a vast area of 380,000 sq m, covering it with up to 10m of mud, Shenzhen's emergency management office said on its official microblog.

State news agency Xinhua said that the landslide caused an explosion at a natural gas pipeline. Workers have cleaned up about 400m of damaged pipeline and are now repairing it.

Rescuers look for survivors after a landslide hit an industrial park in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province on December 20, 2015

Nearly 100 people are reported to still be missing, one day after the disaster. Photo: AFP

Local media reported initial investigations showed the landslide happened when a huge mound of soil and construction waste became unstable and collapsed.

People's Daily said the mound had accumulated at a stone quarry that had been converted into a dumping area with its entrance and exit facing an industrial district.

Residents evacuated from the surrounding area described hearing loud roars when the landslide happened.

Amateur footage of the incident broadcast on state television showed waves of red soil quickly engulfing and crushing buildings.

The incident took place around 11.40am (4.40pm NZT) on Sunday in Guangming New District on the outskirts of Shenzhen city.

Emergency officials said 33 buildings have either been buried or damaged to varying degrees.

They include three workers' dormitories, several factories and offices, a canteen and other buildings.

State media quoted officials as saying 59 men and 32 women were missing and that "signs of life" had been detected at three separate locations. Hundreds of rescue workers, police and special forces are at the scene helping with the operation.

President Xi Jinping has ordered local authorities to put all efforts into the rescue.

The incident comes after huge explosions at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin in August, which killed nearly 200 people living in nearby residential complexes.

That high-profile tragedy raised questions on industrial safety and city zoning laws, and Chinese authorities had vowed to improve standards.

- BBC