Nearly 100 missing in China landslide, massive rescue on

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Beijing: Hundreds of rescuers battling rain and low visibility today mounted a massive operation to locate nearly 100 people including 32 women who remained missing a day after a massive landslide struck an industrial estate in China’s manufacturing hub of Shenzen.

In what is being termed as one of China’s worst urban disasters, a huge man-made mound of earth and construction debris lost stability and collapsed Sunday, burying 33 buildings and triggering an explosion at a gas station in an industrial park in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Rescuers sifted through hundreds of tonne of mud from a crumbling mountain and debris from the buildings in one of China’s most developed cities, bordering Hong Kong.

Authorities mounted a massive rescue operation battling bad weather and low visibility, with 78 excavators and 1,200 rescuers added to the operation searching for the 91 people missing that includes 32 women, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

There are now 2,906 rescuers, including some 8,00 members of the armed forces, digging through silt and rubble at the Hengtaiyu industrial park. The excavators, which arrived at the site this morning, are the first to be involved in the operation, the report said. It was, however, unlikely that further landslides take place, according to a team of 200 geology and gas experts involved in the rescue.

The rescue headquarters said they have detected signs of life at three separate locations of the site. Two checkpoints have been established to register and verify information on the missing people. “The site is quite narrow and is located on a ramp, so it is very difficult for vehicles to enter. We have to go there on foot,” said Ao Zhuoqian, an official of Shenzhen’s fire control department.

Rescue efforts were being hampered by a spate of obstacles, including rain, low nighttime visibility and the large amount of mud, Ao said.

The landslide buried 33 buildings including 14 factory buildings, two office buildings, one canteen, three dormitories and 13 low-rise buildings.

The mud came like “huge waves” as residents ran out of the way, Xinhua quoted a villager as saying. “At one point the running mud was only ten meters away from me.”.

At least 16 people, including children, have been hospitalised and are in a stable condition.