47 buried in southwest China landslide; 200 evacuated from area

Authorities did not immediately specify whether anyone had died in the landslide

By AFP

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Published: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 9:23 AM

Forty-seven people were buried when a landslide struck a remote and mountainous part of southwestern China on Monday, state media reported.

The landslide took place at 5.51am in Zhenxiong County, Yunnan province, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing local authorities.

State broadcaster CCTV said around 18 households were buried in the landslide, and that more than 200 people were "urgently evacuated" from the area. Authorities have launched an emergency response involving over 200 rescue workers as well as dozens of fire engines and other equipment, according to CCTV.

Footage shared on social media by a local broadcaster showed emergency workers in orange jumpsuits and helmets forming ranks outside a fire station as snowflakes whirled through the air.

Other images showed rescuers picking through towering piles of collapsed masonry in which a few personal belongings could be seen. Authorities did not immediately specify whether anyone had died in the landslide.

Landslides are common in Yunnan, a far-flung and often impoverished region of China where steep mountain ranges butt against the Himalayan plateau.

Monday's disaster occurred in a rural area surrounded by towering peaks dusted with snow, state media footage showed. Temperatures in Zhenxiong hovered at around minus four degrees Celsius (24.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday morning, weather data showed.

There was no immediate official explanation for what may have caused the landslide. Efforts to establish what happened are under way, Xinhua reported.

China has experienced a string of natural disasters in recent months, some following extreme weather events such as sudden, heavy downpours. In September, rainstorms in the southern region of Guangxi triggered a mountain landslide that killed at least seven people, according to media reports.

Heavy rains sparked a similar disaster near the northern city of Xi'an in August, causing the deaths of more than 20 people. In June, a landslide in southwestern Sichuan province -- also remote and mountainous -- killed 19 people.

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