1 Jul 2010

Hopes fading for Chinese landslide survivors

9:28 pm on 1 July 2010

Hopes of finding any survivors among nearly 100 people buried in a landslide after heavy rain in south-west China are fading.

Officials say that more than 1100 rescuers braved continuing rainfall and the danger of further landslides to find the missing villagers, including dozens of children, but only three bodies have been recovered since the disaster struck on Monday in Guizhou province.

"The rescue work is going on with difficulties," a Chinese official who declined to be named told AFP, as reported by the ABC. "I can only tell you we are trying our best."

State press say more than 100,000 cubic metres of mud and rocks, the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools, engulfed 30 buildings and homes in the village.

The regional Shenghuo News newspaper reported villagers as saying that up to 30 children and infants left in the village by their migrant worker parents were believed to be buried.

However, local government officials refused to confirm the report.

'The whole village had disappeared'

Survivor Zhang Jin says the landslide came quickly, engulfing the whole village. "The sound was much like thunder," he says. "When I looked back, the whole village had disappeared."

The landslide is the latest weather-related disaster to hit China, which has suffered floods along with mudslides since summer downpours started pounding parts of the nation's south, east and centre in mid-June.

The civil affairs ministry says that at least 235 people died in June and more than 100 went missing in rain-related accidents, not including the Guizhou landslide.