At least five people were killed and over 120 others remained missing after a mountain village was today buried under tonnes of rocks following a massive landslide in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
The landslide from a high part of a mountain in Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba hit Xinmo Village in Maoxian County at about 6 AM, blocking a 2 km section of a river and burying 1,600 metres of road.
A side of a mountain collapsed following the landslide burying 62 homes.
About 120 people were feared to be buried. State media had earlier reported that 141 people may have been buried but later the figure was revised.
Rescuers, including soldiers, frantically scoured through the mud and rocks to find survivors.
Wu Xiaobin, captain of the local fire department, told state broadcaster CCTV that five bodies were pulled from the rubble.
It is the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan, said one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts.
A family of three was pulled out alive from the rubble, the Mao County government said on its official Weibo page.
The couple and their baby are being treated at the Mao County People’s Hospital, the post said. It did not provide further details on their identities.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered all-out efforts to save people buried in the landslide.
Xi has ordered the State Council, China’s Cabinet, to send a work team to the site.
The provincial government has launched the highest level of disaster relief response and sent rescue teams to the site, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
More than 300 rescuers carrying excavation and life- detection instruments were rushed to the site, said Tang Limin, spokesperson of Sichuan provincial government.
Pictures posted by the People’s Daily newspaper showed bulldozers moving earth and large boulders as the rescue efforts continued.
Local police told state broadcaster CCTV that the landslide had been triggered by recent heavy rains in the region and that the situation was made worse by a lack of vegetation in the area.
“There are several tonnes of rock,” police captain Chen Tiebo told the broadcaster, adding that, “It’s a seismic area here.”
Roads in the county were closed to all traffic except emergency services.
Landslides are a regular danger in mountainous regions of China, especially during heavy rains.
In 2008, 87,000 people were killed when an earthquake struck Wenchuan county in Sichuan province. In Maoxian county, 37 tourists were killed when their coach was buried in a landslide caused by the earthquake.