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Mine rescue efforts hampered by weather

Updated: 2013-04-02 01:06
By WANG HUAZHONG and DAQIONG in Maizhokunggar, Lhasa ( China Daily)

36 bodies now recovered, but teams moved to safety after further slide

Mine rescue efforts hampered by weather

Rescuers on their way to retrieve bodies of workers buried in a landslide at the Jiama mining area in Maizhokunggar county, the Tibet autonomous region, on Monday. WANG HUAZHONG / CHINA DAILY

Rescue workers searching for missing miners, buried by Friday's massive landslide near Lhasa, in the Tibet autonomous region, were forced to clear the site twice on Monday, as the risk of further landslides grew.

By 4 pm, 36 bodies had been recovered at the scene of the tragedy, out of 83 believed to be buried at the Jiama mining area of Maizhokunggar county, according to the rescue headquarters.

But thousands of rescuers had to stop searching from 4 pm onwards, as the risk of further landslides increased.

Rescue efforts have continued day and night and 1 million cubic meters of earth and stones had been removed from the landslide site - which is at an altitude of 4,600 meters - by Monday morning, according to officials.

At about 10:50 am, the mountainside where Friday's landslide took place experienced a minor landslide, which brought with it thousands of cubic meters of sand and stones, forcing rescuers to retreat from the area.

Then, around 4 pm, academicians from the Chinese Academy of Engineering said they had identified four crevices about 600 meter long appearing on the top of the mountain, and workers were again told to leave the site for safer areas.

Other experts involved in geology, surveying and seismic work were still evaluating the situation at 6 pm.

More than 4,500 rescuers and 200 machines were working at the site to find the buried miners, said a spokesman with the rescue headquarters.

Weather conditions at the site had deteriorated during the day, said officials, with occasional rain and snowfalls hampering rescue efforts.

Chen Jun, an army traffic division official, said the conditions meant soldiers working at the site had only cold water and dry food available.

Li Suzhi, a doctor, added that medical staff had treated many rescuers over the past couple of days, suffering from the cold, fever or altitude sickness.

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