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No hope for 'several hundred' missing in China landslide: official

A damaged power cable half-buried under a torrent of mining waste and sludge in Taoshi, after a mining dam collapsed in north China's Shanxi province on September 10, 2008. Rescue workers stepped up efforts to find survivors amid fears hundreds of people died in the disaster, while authorities so far confirmed 56 people dead. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Xiangfen, China (AFP) Sept 11, 2008
Several hundred people believed missing after an industrial landslide engulfed a Chinese town are likely dead, with 128 already confirmed killed, state press said Thursday, citing a senior official.

Minister of Work Safety Wang Jun said "several hundred" people are thought buried in the mud and sludge that came cascading down onto the village after a mining waste reservoir burst its banks on Monday, the China Daily reported.

"There is almost no hope of their survival ... they have been buried for three days," the paper quoted Wang as saying.

The landslide in Taoshi township, Shanxi province, buried an entire village of 1,000 people, including a market that was full of shoppers attending a "major fair," the China Daily reported, citing witnesses.

The latest official death toll given on Wednesday night was 128, with 35 injured. However that was based on the number of bodies pulled out of the sludge.

The number of rescue workers nearly doubled on Wednesday to 2,200, while earthmovers were called in to clear the sludge that was several hundred metres across and more than two kilometres long.

Before being ordered out of the town by police on Wednesday, an AFP reporter saw the remains of a buried school, a market entirely covered by mud and the wreckage of a few cars that had been hauled out of the muck.

The mud appeared to be more than six metres (20 feet) deep in some places.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered an "all-out" emergency response and rapid investigation into the disaster, which the government has blamed on the company that ran the illegal mine.

The administration said the mine had kept a tailing pond full of ore dregs, which burst its banks amid heavy rain and sent sludge into the village, in Xiangfen county.

Police have already detained nine of the mining company's employees, including the boss.

The Communist Party secretary, the mayor of Taoshi, and two work safety officials have also been sacked "for lax work safety supervision and a failure to strictly deal with hidden safety dangers," state press reported Wednesday.

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UN calls for 107 million dollars in aid for storm-struck Haiti
Mexico City (AFP) Sept 10, 2008
The United Nations has called for some 107 million dollars in humanitarian aid to help Haiti recover from four major storms in less than four weeks, a top UN official said here Wednesday.

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