As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, rescuers had saved 16 hikers, retrieved 15 bodies and were continuing to search for the missing, the Chongqing municipal government said in a press release.
CHONGQING: Seven more bodies were retrieved Sunday from a flooded crude gorge in Chongqing Municipality, bringing the death toll from a rain-related hiking accident to 14, the rescue headquarters said.
Rescuers found the bodies in the afternoon at a pond of the lower reaches of a flood-formed river in the Tanzhangxia Canyon scenic spot, Wanzhou District.
Sixteen of the 35-member expedition were rescued. Five of them were hospitalized for minor injuries and the rest are in a hotel.
Rescuers search along riverbed for the missing tourists at the Tanzhangxia Canyon scenic spot, Wanzhou District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, July 12, 2009. [Xinhua]
More than 1,900 police officers, soldiers, medical staff and local residents were searching for the five missing tourists in the area.
The hiking group entered a forbidden area of the canyon Saturday afternoon under the guidance of a local resident.
However, a downpour quickly triggered mountain torrents and flushed away most of the tourists at about 3 pm.
"I heard a roaring sound while walking at the bottom of the gorge. Suddenly the flood, up to several meters' high, crushed upon us and swept us several kilometers away," said Deng Ke, one of the survivors.
Rescuers search for the missing tourists at the Tanzhangxia Canyon scenic spot, Wanzhou District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, July 12, 2009. [Xinhua]
"I grabbed a rattan and climbed about 30 meters along the mountain until met some villagers," he said.
The expedition, comprising 18 women and 17 men, was set up via a Chongqing-based travel Web site and they did not notify the administration of their plans to visit the scenic spot or get approval from the local tourism authorities, said Pu Binbin, secretary-general of the Wanzhou District Committee of the Communist Party of China.
Many of the hikers had bought insurance for 100,000 yuan (14,600 US dollars).