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Latest China mudslides leave 14 dead, dozens missing

Chinese rescuers try to reach possible survivors, after torrents of mud slammed into homes in the remote township of Puladi in southwest China's Yunnan province on August 19, 2010, leaving dozens missing and prompting a large-scale rescue effort. Devastating mudslides on August 18 in southwest China have claimed their first two victims and left 90 others missing, as experts in other parts of the country warn of more disasters to come, state media said on August 19. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 19, 2010
Mudslides in a remote area of southwest China have killed 14 people and left dozens missing, state media said Thursday, while a train derailed in another flood-hit area, sending two carriages into a river.

The incidents in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces came as China battles its worst floods in a decade, triggered by heavy rains across wide swathes of the country, leaving thousands dead or missing and at least 12 million evacuated.

In Yunnan, more than 1,100 rescuers raced to find survivors buried in piles of sludge that slammed into homes in Puladi township in the early hours of Wednesday when residents were sleeping, as the threat of more rain loomed.

Photos published in state newspapers showed rescuers laying down planks on a 300-metre-wide sea of mud which had buried at least 21 houses along with their inhabitants.

Roads were damaged and power lines cut in the isolated area, in the mountains near the border with Myanmar.

"The downpour, coupled with howling wind, was terrifying. My daughter, son and I did not dare sleep, but the mudslide took away my son anyway," Yang Guihua, her voice trembling, was quoted as saying by the official China Daily.

Yang's nine-year-old son is still missing, the report said.

The missing were mainly mine employees and local villagers.

Rescuers had recovered 14 bodies so far, the official China News Service reported, though the Xinhua news agency put the confirmed death toll at four. About 30 people were taken to hospital for treatment.

In neigbouring Sichuan, a train derailed after floodwaters destroyed a bridge near the city of Guanghan, sending at least two carriages into the river below, but all passengers were rescued safely, a local official said.

"No one was injured, though some were frightened," said a spokesman for the Guanghan city government, who gave only his surname, Li.

A firefighter involved in the rescue effort told Xinhua that the carriages had been swept 200 metres (yards) into the river.

The train was travelling from Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province, through Sichuan to Kunming, the capital of the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Rail service in the area has been suspended, Li said.

Elsewhere in Sichuan, at least 15 people have been killed in mudslides in an area that is only just recovering from the huge 2008 earthquake that left nearly 87,000 dead or missing.

Qiao Jianping, a researcher with the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, said weaknesses sparked by the Sichuan quake could last more than a decade, according to China Daily.

Ten days ago, at least 1,364 people were killed in mudslides in the northwestern province of Gansu, which virtually split the remote town of Zhouqu in two. Just over 400 others are still missing.

More than 2,100 people have been left dead or missing nationwide this year in flood-related incidents, not including the toll from the Zhouqu disaster, according to government figures.

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More than 60 missing in latest China mudslides
Beijing (AFP) Aug 18, 2010
More than 60 people went missing after torrents of mud slammed into homes in southwest China Wednesday as they slept, in the nation's latest disaster as it battles its worst flooding in a decade. Power and communication lines were cut to Puladi township in Yunnan province, where the mudslides struck in the early hours, a provincial government official said. Rescuers have been sent to the ... read more

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