More than 100 people are feared to have been buried in a landslide that smashed through a mountain village in southwest Sichuan province of China on Saturday, the local authorities said. The Chinese media reported that nearly 500 people were taking part in rescue efforts.
According to a statement and images released by the Maoxian government, about 40 homes in the village of Xinmo were swallowed by huge boulders after the side of a mountain collapsed, blocking a 2 km stretch of river. The rescuers used ropes to move a massive rock while dozens of others scoured the mountain for survivors.
The images showed that bulldozers and heavy diggers were also deployed to remove boulders. Medics were seen treating a woman on a road. "There are several tonnes of rock," local police captain Chen Tiebo told the state broadcaster CCTV.
Chen said that the landslide was triggered by the heavy rainfall which hit the region in recent days. "It's a seismic area here. There's not a lot of vegetation," Chen added.
The local government's statement said that an emergency response "to the first class catastrophic geological disaster" is under way. It added that the full extent of the landslide was not yet clear.
Xinhua, the state news agency said that the landslide came from a high part of a mountain in the Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba had collapsed. Reports said the landslide struck the village at around 0600 am local time (2200 GMT).
Landslides are quite frequent in the rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly at times of heavy rains. At least 12 people were killed in January when a landslide crushed a hotel in central Hubei province.
In October, landslides battered eastern China in the wake of torrential rains brought by Typhoon Megi, causing widespread damage and killing at least eight. More than 70 people were killed by a landslide in the southern commercial hub of Shenzhen in December 2015, caused by the improper storage of waste.