96 die, 2,000 missing in China landslides (Second Lead)

August 8th, 2010 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 8 (IANS) Massive landslides triggered by rains hit northwest China’s Gansu province, killing at least 96 people while 2,000 were missing, authorities said Sunday.
While 96 people were confirmed dead in Zhouqu county in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous prefecture, over 680 people were rescued after the Bailong river overflowed and a large body of water inundated Chengguan township.

“Torrential rains began at around 10 p.m. Saturday, then there were landslides,” Xinhua quoted Diemujiangteng, head of the county, as saying.

“Many people were trapped. Now the sludge has become the biggest problem. It’s too thick to walk or drive through,” he said.

At least 50,000 residents were believed to be affected as floods had submerged half of the county and many houses were buried by landslides.

Li Tiankui, a resident who lived near the Bailong River, said: “People are looking for their family members and friends.”

Yueyuan village was buried in the disaster. Over 120 homes in Chengguan township and Jiangpan village were extensively damaged. Some 300 residents were still trapped, said the provincial committee of the Communist Party of China.

A primary school and some governmental offices in the county were also damaged.

Peng Wei, head of the county’s fire department, said: “The county was in a valley and the Bailong river runs in the middle… The cars in the yard have all been damaged. Many toppled houses have formed new barriers to the floods.”

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has left Beijing to visit the landslide-hit Zhouqu county. The county covers 3,010 square km and has a population of 134,700, about 33 percent of which are Tibetans.

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