CHONGQING: At least 87 people, including students, were buried underneath a landslide at an iron ore mine in southwestern China's mountainous region on Friday.
Firemen search for survivors at the site where a landslide occured earlier in the Jiwei Mountain area, in Tiekuang Township, about 170 kilometers southeast of the downtown area, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, June 5, 2009. [Xinhua]
A massive rescue operation was underway last night to find survivors trapped in the rubble. Dozens remained missing after millions of cubic meters of rock flooded Tiekuang village in Chongqing, China's largest municipality, Xinhua reported.
Seven people were pulled alive from the debris after the sudden landslide during fine weather conditions at 3 pm. All were injured and three were seriously hurt.
Those buried underneath the rubble include dozens of miners, villagers and a number of students and their parents who were walking near the mine.
"Almost the whole Jiwei Hill slid down," a mine staff member told the Chongqing Daily website.
Photo taken on June 5, 2009 shows the site where a landslide occured earlier in the Jiwei Mountain area, in Tiekuang Township, about 170 kilometers southeast of the downtown area, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. [Xinhua]
About 160 soldiers arrived at the scene four hours after the landslide. About 700 armed police were traveling toward the area Friday night.
The landslide cut off the shortest route between the village of Tiekuang (meaning iron mine) and Wulong.
It took medical staff an additional 30 minutes to complete the one-hour journey from Wulong because the road was blocked.
The People's Daily reported that local people attempted to clear the roads so rescuers could reach the area.
The cause of the landslide was still under investigation last night. However, an official surnamed Dong from the Chongqing work safety supervision bureau told Reuters that the landslide "did not appear to be related to mining activities".
Wulong county, where the incident happened, lies deep within the mountains about a two-hour drive from the urban center of Chongqing, known as China's "city of mountains".
The municipality is rich in iron ore, natural gas and other mineral resources.
The tragedy follows similar landslides around China, including one last year where at least 277 people were killed when a shoddy holding reservoir burst and a three-story wave of mud and iron-mining waste inundated a valley in Shanxi province.