ZHOUQU, Gansu - Rescuers began to blast debris damming a west China river Monday in order to safely release potential flood waters in Zhouqu County, where at least 127 people died in a massive mudslide early Sunday.
Personnel from the Lanzhou Area Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) used explosives to blast the blockage in the Bailong River, in Gansu Province, at 8:18 am, a spokesman with the emergency rescue headquarters said.
He said the first operation was successful.
"Armed police officers are now slowly demolishing the blockage with excavators," he said.
A second blast was carried out at 9:34 am.
A military source told Xinhua that drainage of the barrier lake noticeably accelerated after the blasts.
The PLA would carry out a third explosion on Monday morning, he said.
A massive mudslide battered Zhouqu County, in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, early Sunday. As of Monday, 127 people were reported dead and 88 injured. An estimated 1,294 people are missing.
The county is located in the Bailong River valley, flanked by mountains on both sides.
The blockage of the river created a barrier lake that overfilled and sent massive waves crashing down on the county, ripping houses from their foundations and tearing six-story apartment buildings in half.
According to local meteorological authorities, Zhouqu is expected to see drizzle or moderate rain on Monday and Tuesday.