Landslide leaves 18 dead in NW China

Updated: 2011-07-07 08:43


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XI'AN - Eighteen people were confirmed dead and four others injured in a rain-triggered landslide that hit Lueyang County in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province Tuesday, local authorities said Wednesday.

Torrential rain hit Lueyang County from 3 am to midday Tuesday, triggering a 5,000-cubic-meter landslide that engulfed a two-story building in the county seat at 11:15 am, the government of Hanzhong City said in a statement.

The local government sent more than 400 people to the site for rescue operations.

Rescuers reached 22 people, but 17 were already dead, and one died after treatment failed. Four others were injured and are currently still hospitalized.

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Also in Lueyang, an 80-year-old villager, Sun Guiying, remains missing after she was swept away while crossing a swollen river Tuesday.

As of midnight Wednesday, the downpours that have also wreaked havoc in 10 other counties of Hanzhong City have affected 102,300 people and forced the evacuation of nearly 5,000.

The Hanzhong government said disasters caused by the torrential rains had leveled 1,341 houses and damaged 5,442 others, and nearly 6,000 hectares of farmland were submerged.

Initial statistics indicate that the flooding has caused a direct economic losses of 160 million yuan (US$ 25 million).

More heavy rains are expected to hit the southern part of Shaanxi over the next 24 hours, said the Shaanxi Meteorological Center.

From 9 am Wednesday to 8 am Thursday, the eastern area of Hanzhong City is expected to receive more than 50 mm of rain, according to the meteorological center.

Flood control authorities in Shaanxi are on high alert and are evacuating people living in low-lying areas and places threatened by possible heavy rains and ensuing mountain torrents.

In Shaanxi's neighboring Sichuan Province, a rain-triggered mudslide blocked National Highway 317 at Lixian County of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture at around 6 pm Wednesday, said officials with the provincial flood control headquarters.

The mudslide also blocked three fourths of Zagunao River that runs by the county. No casualties have been reported as of 9 pm Wednesday, officials said.

About 29,000 households have been without power since Monday when torrential rains began to lash Wangcang County, said the county government spokesman.

All the 20 schools in the county have been damaged to some degree, with an area of 130 square meters of school buildings collapsed and another 9,560 square meters in danger of collapsing, he said.

A male giant panda, aged about 10, was found drowned in the Zipingpu Reservoir in the township of Yingxiu Tuesday morning. It was probably swept into a section of the Minjiang River by rain-triggered floods and mudslides, said provincial forestry officials.

In northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Wengquan River burst its bank at 9 am Wednesday, sweeping millions of bags of cultivated fungi away in Jiayin County in the city of Yichun, where fungus cultivation is a main source of income for the locals. There have been no reports of casualties yet.