Massive mudslide traps 200 in Three Gorges area

Updated: 2008-04-20 18:05

Yichang -- Emergency workers are trying to rescue almost 200 people from a village that was almost inundated by a massive landslide in central China on Saturday.

Continuous rain triggered a landslide of 60,000 cubic meters of mud, which swept into a schoolyard and a village of 37 homes at the Three Gorges Dam area in Hubei Province on Saturday afternoon.

The rain had washed away 20,000 cubic meters of the mud in Xiaohe Village of Gaoyang Township, Xingshan County, by Sunday morning, said a county government spokesman.

Chen Hua, the county head leading the rescue work, said the mud flow covered the playground of the Zhongxin Primary School in Gaoyang, and damaged the dining hall and some classrooms.

No casualties were reported, since the school was out over the weekend, said the official.

However, the mud flow still threatened to inundate a school building and the homes of 179 people in the village.

The county has ordered the school to suspend classes for the next three days. Rescuers are working to get the stranded residents to safety.

Rainstorms have slammed the geographically vulnerable reservoir area since Friday, said Chen.

Up to 106 millimeters of rain had fallen so far. Weather forecasters say the rain would continue in coming days, which would continue to swell exuding underground water at the landslide site.

The disaster relief staff expected that the landslide area would worsen due to the bad weather.

Gaoyang is to be the last town to be relocated to make way for the raising of the reservoir level to 175 meters in 2009 from the current level of 156 meters. A total of 2,000 villagers are expected to be relocated.

The Office of the Three Gorges Project Committee of the State Council said that hazards such as landslides and the collapses of embankments would be unavoidable in the dam area, as the reservoir capacity grows.

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