China: At least 20 dead, dozens missing in Yunnan landslide


Rescuers search for survivors at the ruins of a landslide on January 22, 2024 in Zhenxiong County, Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province of China. The landslide has left 47 people buried on early January 22 in Zhaotong, Yunnan province.
Image caption,Rescue workers in Zhenxiong county are working in sub-zero temperatures

By Fan Wang & Kelly Ng

BBC News

The death toll from a landslide in China’s Yunnan province has risen to 20, while 24 people remain missing.

The landslide in Zhaotong occurred at 05:51 local time (21:51 GMT) on Monday, trapping dozens of people.

Rescuers are racing against time and working through sub-zero temperatures to find those still missing, state news agency Xinhua said.

Preliminary investigations show the landslide resulted from a collapse in a steep cliff, it reported.

The collapsed mass measured approximately 100m (328ft) in width, 60m in height, with an average thickness of around 6m, Xinhua said, citing city authorities.

More than 500 people were evacuated from their homes and nearly 1,000 rescue workers dispatched to the site. President Xi Jinping has ordered an “all-out” rescue in the area, while Chinese vice-premier Zhang Guoqing reportedly led a group to the site to guide rescue operations.

“Search and rescue efforts persisted through the night,” firefighter Li Shenglong told state news outlet Xinhua.

One of the villagers told local media that most of the residents were either elderly or children. Another resident told local news outlet Jimu News that the landslide happened while many people were still asleep on Monday morning.

“It was very loud, and there was also a shake, it felt like a big earthquake,” she said.

Video clips shared on social media showed rescuers walking on piles of rubble against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Personal belongings are seen scattered among the collapsed masonry.

The remote, mountainous region in southwest China is prone to landslides. In January 2013, at least 18 people were killed in a landslide in the same county.

Separately, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Wushi county in China’s Xinjiang at about 02:00 local time on Tuesday. State broadcaster CCTV said no casualties have been reported, but some homes have been damaged and some areas had their power supplies cut.

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