Sunday’s landslide trapped dozens of Chinese construction workers and has left at least 34 people dead. Four people are still reported as missing, according to the SBS, as rescue efforts continue.
The landslide happened near a hydro-power project that construction workers were working on in Taining County in Fujin province.
The landslide that trapped dozens of people was triggered on Sunday after heavy rains doused the area. The consistent rain has made it difficult for rescuers to reach the bodies and search for any survivors.
President Xi Jinping has demanded that local officials step up rescue efforts and recover the four people still unaccounted for.
The Government has responded and sent experts to help the rescue workers search for signs of life and manually move stones and rocks. More than 1,000 people, including firefighters, police, and 53 workers who took part in recovery operations for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, have now joined the effort to search for the missing people, according to South China Morning Post.
Despite the ramp up in rescuers searching for the people still trapped by the landslide, persistent rain is hindering rescue efforts and making if difficult for machines and vehicles to get into the area to remove rubble.
The landslide that buried an office building and the construction workers’ living area was part of a 100,000 cubic meter mountain. One of the survivors, Deng Chunwu, said he hid under a pole with three other workers when they heard the mountain rumble.
“We were asleep when the mountains began to jolt very strongly and before we knew it, sand and mud were flowing into our room.”
The room that Deng and his fellow workers were sleeping in moved 10 meters during the mudslide, according to Deng.
Rain has been lashing southern China since Wednesday and has caused a landslide that trapped and killed dozens of people; the rain has also triggered floods, disrupted public transport, and destroyed food crops.
One of the areas hit hardest by the torrential rain was a popular tourist destination, Yangshuo, in the Guangxi region. Yangshuo is a popular place to travel because of the dramatic scenery along the Lijiang River and soaring karst outcroppings. Thousands of tourists and residents have been evacuated from the area since Wednesday, and no deaths have been reported.
In other areas of China, deaths have been reported including a 75-year-old woman and her 3-year-old great-grandson in Hubei province to the north. They were washed away in an overflowing river. In the nearby Guizhou province, another person has been reported as dead with another missing after rains caved in the roof of a building.
The incident that trapped dozens of workers in Taining has once again flagged the issues China is facing with industrial safety standards and lack of oversight due to years of rapid economic growth, according to CBC. This is the second devastating landslide to hit Southern China since December last year. The December landslide buried 77 people, and the government arrested several officials for breaching safety rules.
According to South China Morning Post, the Ministry of Land and Resources has warned that the site is at risk of a second landslide or related disasters such as flooding, gas leaks, and disease outbreaks. Over 4,000 people who live or work across Taining county in areas that are at risk of rain-related disasters have now been evacuated, People’s Daily reported.
Sun Jinzhong, a professor at China University of Geo-Sciences, said that man-made causes, such as construction at the foot of the mountain, might have contributed to the landslide that trapped dozens of people. He said it could have been due to an earthquake or rainfall, but a local villager said that the area had not experienced landslides before, despite the area being surrounded by mountains.
The ministry has now warned areas across China of flooding and has called for a stronger effort to prevent, detect, and warn about disasters such as landslides.The National Meteorological Center has forecast heavy rain to continue to fall in Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, and Guangdong provinces.
[Image via Visual China Group/Getty Images]