15 Aug 2010

China observes day of mourning for landslide victims

3:01 pm on 15 August 2010

China is observing a national day of mourning for the victims of last weekend's massive landslide in a remote part of its northwest, which killed more than 1,200 people when a torrent of mud swept through a town.

Flags across the country are flying at half mast and all public forms of entertainment have been suspended.

Zhouqu, in the province of Gansu, was devastated when an avalanche of mud roared down the slopes of a mountain after unusually strong rain.

The death toll has now risen to 1239, with another 505 missing.

Officials had warned for years that heavy tree-felling and rapid hydro development were making the mountain area struck by the mudslide vulnerable to flooding and land slips.

Heavy rains have continued to batter Gansu.

At least 33 people have died in Zhouqu's neighbouring town of Longnan over the past few days, and thousands of people have been relocated.