Death toll in China mudslide hits 128; rescue continues (lead)

September 10th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Taiyuan (China), Sep 10 (Xinhua) The death toll in a mudslide that buried a market and other buildings in northern China’s Shanxi province rose to 128 Wednesday, as hundreds of rescuers continued the search for more victims, the provincial rescue headquarters said.The mudslide occurred Monday morning in Linfen city in Xiangfen county.

A team of more than 1,550 police personnel, firefighters and volunteers, with the help of 30 cranes and excavators, were participating in the rescue operation and they have already recovered 128 bodies from the mud and debris by Wednesday evening, according to the rescue headquarters.

Rescue officials were still searching for bodies underneath the rubble. But rough terrain, poor telecommunications and continuous rainfall were hampering the rescue effort.

The State Council, or China’s cabinet, is going to start an investigation into the cause of the accident.

An initial investigation revealed the cause of the accident was “the unlicensed Tashan mine operated illegally”. According to the rescue headquarters, the stored waste iron ore dregs had surpassed the capacity of the holding pond.

Police said the mine owner and eight other people related to the accident had been detained. Several officials, including the local head of the work safety administration, village party secretary and village chief have been sacked for failing to supervise safety.

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