Avalanche of rain and mud kills 127 in China
Published 09/08/2010 | 05:00
Mudslides engulfed a town in north-west China yesterday killing at least 127 people.
Another 1,300 residents were still missing last night as rescue teams dug out crushed homes and tried to blast away debris clogging a river.
The mass of flood water, mud and rock hit Zhouqu county in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province, a region dominated by steep and barren hills, after torrential rains late on Saturday.
Runoff from the downpour built up behind a landslide on the Bailong River, which runs through the main town in Zhouqu.
The clogged river in the narrow valley then spilled over its banks and caused flooding and mudslides that struck the town after midnight. More heavy rain is forecast tomorrow.
"Many single-storey homes have been wiped out and now we're waiting to see how many people got out," one resident of Zhouqu, a merchant called Han Jiangping, said.
"We've had landslides before, but never anything this bad. People are trying to find their families and waiting for more rescuers."
One village with 300 homes was "buried", said official news reports, and at one point the flooding covered about half of the Zhouqu county seat, which has about 40,000 residents.
There are fears the death toll could rise sharply.