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Thirteen people have been confirmed dead and 15 remain missing after a mudslide in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on early Tuesday morning, the local government said.
The mudslide occurred at an iron ore mine in the Araltobe township of Xinyuan county, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, a spokesman for the prefecture's fire brigade said. The brigade received an emergency call around 1 am, he added.
Mud and debris buried 28 people, initially identified as 22 mine workers and six local residents who collect iron ore to sell, the spokesman said.
By Tuesday afternoon, seven bodies were recovered from the debris, which, according to China News Service, covered an area 500 meters by 60 meters and five to six meters deep.
Rescuers carry the bodies of mudslide victims in Xinyuan county in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Tuesday. Li Chenggang / for China Daily
Nine men, three women and a child were confirmed dead.
Rescuers were using sniffer dogs, life-detecting devices and excavators to find the missing.
"Twenty-two miners, mainly from Yunnan and Fujian provinces, and six local herders were buried in the accident," said Yan Qing, a local government official.
About 370 policemen, firefighters and government officials participated in the rescue work, with 20 front loaders and excavators and a life detector, Yan said.
The rescuers found 20 suitcases of TNT and 10 bags of detonators in a warehouse near the iron ore mine, which they moved to safer places, the China News Service report said.
The Ili fire brigade dispatched nine vehicles and 54 workers for the rescue mission. As they neared the scene of the mudslide, they had to carry their equipment because the roads were narrow and steep, according to the report.
The nearby mountains remained unstable and more mudslides were likely to occur at any time, according to the rescue crews.
Jiao Xinming, an official from Ili road management bureau, said the continuing rain and large area of the mudslide were making the rescue work more difficult.
The rescue efforts will continue, Jiao said, but more rain is expected in the coming days, adding to the danger.