Hundreds of rescuers hunt for survivors after landslide kills 15 in southwestern China

Specialised search-and-rescue workers are looking for eight people still missing in two destroyed villages in Guizhou province after collapse of mountainside after days of rain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 10:36am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 6:19pm

Hundreds of rescuers are hunting for survivors today after a massive landslide in southwestern China that killed at least 15 people.

Half of a 600-metre high knoll near Fuquan city in the southwestern province of Guizhou broke free and “wiped out a majority of the village” at its  base, the official Xinhua news agency said.

More than 600 members of specialised search-and-rescue teams were working in a pair of destroyed villages, state media reported.

They came equipped with electronic devices to detect signs of life, as well as large digging machinery and other specialised equipment, the reports said.

At least eight people are still missing and 22 were left injured by the collapse of a mountainside on Wednesday night after three days of heavy rain.

Most of the residents were children or elderly, Xinhua said, as many working-age villagers had moved to the cities.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 77 houses collapsed or were buried in the landslide. The breaching of a small reservoir during the landslide also caused flooding that covered houses up to their roofs.

Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China, and renowned for its  hilly topography and wet weather.

The state-run China National Radio quoted villagers saying that they had complained for years to authorities about the weakening of the mountainside caused by past mining operations.

Unrestricted mining and quarrying is frequently blamed for causing landslides in China’s remote, mountainous southwestern provinces.