China / Society

Fatal landslide prompts disaster prevention

(Xinhua) Updated: 2013-01-13 09:01

KUNMING - Chinese Land and Resources Minister Xu Shaoshi urged on Saturday the strengthening of geological disaster prevention and treatment efforts after a landslide killed 46 people in Southwest China's Yunnan province.

"All regions, especially the Three Gorges Reservoir area and earthquake-hit areas or those prone to disasters, should tighten geological disaster prevention and treatment efforts all the time," Xu said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

A landslide hit the Zhaojiagou area of Gaopo village, Zhenxiong county in Yunnan around 8:20 am Friday, burying 46 residents. All of them - 24 male and 22 female - were retrieved dead by Saturday noon.

The fatal disaster triggered public concern over the causes of the landslide, how to prevent such disasters and worries about the future of the residents living in the remote, disaster-prone mountainous areas.


In analyzing the causes of Zhaojiagou landslide, Jiang Xingwu, a geological expert in Yunnan, said Saturday the steep slope with 35 to 50 degrees of inclination and its major composition of earth affected its own stability.

The prolonged rainy and snowy weather over the past month led to the saturation of the slope, triggering the landslide due to gravity, Jiang said after inspecting the scene and adjacent areas.

He added earthquakes with the magnitudes of 5.7 and 5.6 which hit Yiliang county in September were another factor for the disaster. Yiliang, under the jurisdiction of Zhaotong city, neighbors Zhenxiong.

A local villager claimed cracks as wide as 50 centimeters had developed on the slope structure before. But other villagers denied this.

Liu Jianhua, mayor of Zhaotong city, said previous disaster inspections had not found any risks in Zhaojiagou, thus it was not listed as sites under monitoring. There had been no landslide disasters in the area before.

Zhenxiong county is one of the areas most vulnerable to landslides in Yunnan. The number of the geological disaster-prone sites in Yunnan accounts for nearly one tenth of the country's total, according to local media reports.

Some villagers in the landslide-hit area told Xinhua they suspected the landslide had something to do with a nearby coal mine.

But geological expert Jiang Xingwu denied the connection.

"The Gaopo coal mine is the only one in the area. The straight-line distance between the boundary of the mining area and the landslide site is 500 meters. According to the spot inspection and causal analysis of the landslide, there was no direct relationship between the landslide and mining activities," explained Jiang.

Related stories:

All 46 victims' identities confirmed

Landslide kills dozens

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Chinese leaders urge landslide victims' rescue

Photos of rescue work after landslide in the southwest

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