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China landslides death toll rises to 127
BEIJING, AUG 8 (Agencies):
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Published on 8 Aug. 2010 11:29 PM IST
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Death toll in the massive landslide in northwest China’s Gansu province is expected to rise rapidly as over 2,000 people were missing till late Sunday evening. The ministry of civil affairs put the toll in Zhouqu County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of the province at 127 till Sunday evening.
“It’s very hard to locate the people washed away by floods. It’s hard to say what their chances of survival are,” He Youxin, an officer of People’s Armed Police Force, said. Rescuers had to use spade and bare hands because heavy machines and excavators could not reach the site covered with sludge, some as thick as two meters.
The number of casualties in some of the affected areas including Yueyuan village in the county was still not known. An additional 76 persons have been injured. The authorities have evacuated 45,000 people, the ministry said. A 1000-strong team of rescuers have joined the task to locate survivors.
The landslides that occurred at around midnight caused a barrier lake on the Bailong River, which is posing another serious threat to the people in the area. Helicopters carrying equipment to blast the sides of the barrier lake, which is 3 km long, 100 meters wide and 9 meters deep, have been pressed into service.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao rushed to Zhouqu County to oversee relief efforts around 4.30 pm. More than 600 soldiers sent by the Lanzhou Military Area Command of the People’s Liberation Army have arrived at the county. Local residents also swung into action rescuing 680 people from the floods.
The landslide was caused by heavy rains and severe flooding.
The county seat of Chengguan Township saw flood waters carrying vast quantities of mud and rocks that submerged half the town early Sunday morning, Mao Shengwu, head of the prefecture, reported. Chengguan was overwhelmed by the flooded Bailong River, which runs through the county.
Zhouqu has a population of 135,000 with one-third being Tibetans, who are facing the second major tragedy since a major earthquake hit the Qinghai province in mid-April.
“Torrential rains began to fall at around 10 pm on Saturday. Then there were landslides and many people were trapped. Now sludge has become the biggest hindrance to rescue operations. It’s too thick to walk or drive through,” the official media quoted the county’s administrative head, Diemujiangteng, as saying.
Reports reaching Beijing said over 300 houses have been buried in Yueyuan village in the country. An area 5 km in length and 500 meters wide has been covered by a combination of mud and rock thrown up by the floods, the local government said in a statement.

 
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