A landslide buried 47 people in a remote mountainous area in southwestern China on Monday, state media said, adding that two bodies had already been found.
The tragedy occurred at 5:51 a.m. (9:51 p.m. Sunday GMT) in Liangshui Village, located in Yunnan Province, Zhenxiong Province, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
“More than 200 residents were urgently evacuated, and 10 excavators, 33 fire engines and more than 200 rescuers were mobilized for search operations,” public broadcaster CCTV announced.
A video posted by New China shows about a dozen firefighters wearing orange jumpsuits and helmets advancing on what appear to be collapsed concrete blocks and other debris.
Photos posted by users of the Chinese social network Douyin show a snow-covered mountain village with houses partially buried by a landslide.
According to the latest report, “two missing people were found and showed no signs of life,” CCTV reported.
A resident told the Beijing News (Xinjingbao) that she was sleeping when the disaster occurred and parts of the roof of her house fell on her.
“At first I thought it was an earthquake. Then I realized it was the mountain collapsing,” another resident told the newspaper.
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered rescue workers “to do everything possible to reduce the number of casualties,” according to instructions reported by CCTV.
He stressed that “it is appropriate to carry out work to calm the families of the victims and resettle those affected.”
Reached by phone, a Chinese Communist Party official in Liangshui village did not want to discuss the landslide and told AFP he was “very busy.”
Yunnan is a mountainous province, inhabited by many ethnic groups, and remains one of the poorest provinces in China.
The site of the tragedy is located about 1,600 kilometers southwest of Shanghai and about 350 kilometers northeast of Kunming, the provincial capital.
According to the Chinese Meteorological Authority, temperatures in Zhenxiong County currently hover around 0°C during the day and drop to -4°C at night.
Landslides occur regularly in the mountainous regions of southwestern China, especially after rain. No official cause has yet been given for Monday's tragedy.
In September, storms in the Guangxi region (south) caused a landslide in a mountainous area, killing at least seven people, according to local press.
About twenty people died last August after a landslide following a sudden flood in a village near the large city of Xi'an (north).
In June 2023, a landslide in Sichuan Province (southwest), which is also isolated and mountainous, killed 19 people.
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