Dozens missing after mudslides hit town in southwest China

August 18th, 2010 - 8:01 pm ICT by BNO News  

YUNNAN PROVINCE, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — Nearly 70 people are missing and dozens more have been injured after mudslides struck a remote town in southwest China on early Wednesday, according officials and local media.

The mudslides struck Puladi Township in the Drung-Nu Autonomous County of Gonshan in southwest China’s Yunnan Province at around 1.30 a.m. local time. Most of the missing are employees of the Yujin Iron Mine.

“I suddenly heard rumbling late last night and then rushed to a safe place with fellow villagers. I hadn’t expected mudslides could come so quickly,” Yu Zhizhong, of Litoudi Village, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Puladi township seat, told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The mudslides were spread about 300 meters (328 yards) across, villagers and rescuers said, burying at least 10 trucks carrying iron ore and 21 houses.

Zhong Zhifang, a spokesperson for local border troops involved in the search and rescue operation, said the mudslides were triggered by days of torrential rain.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said in a statement that the debris in the mudslides blocked parts of the Nujiang River, rising the water level by some 6 meters (6.5 yards).

“According to preliminary statistics, around 67 people are missing,” the ministry said. It said 100 tents, 200 blankets and 200 sets of clothing were among material sent in a first response.

The first group of 24 border troops arrived at the site, about 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from the Gongshan county seat, at 9.30 a.m. local time, and another 103 troops are en route to the area, Zhong told Xinhua.

Xinhua reported that, in addition to the 67 missing, 25 were injured and transported to area hospitals. Nine of the injured were in a serious condition.

Torrential rains have wreaked havoc across China this summer, incurring the worst flooding and landslides in decades. On Saturday, a mudslide that hit Wenchuan County in southwest China’s Sichuan Province killed 15 people and left 9 others injured.

A massive landslide earlier this month in Zhouqu County, in northwestern Gansu Province, left at least 1,270 people dead and 474 missing.

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