46 bodies found in Yunnan mudslide

Updated: 2013-01-13 07:51

By Li Yao in Beijing(China Daily)

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 46 bodies found in Yunnan mudslide

Rescue workers dig through muddy debris after a landslide hit Gaopo village in Zhenxiong county, Yunnan province. The death toll rose to 46 as the bodies of the last two missing were found Saturday morning. Hao Yaxin / Xinhua

By noon on Saturday rescuers had found the bodies of all 46 people who died when they were buried in a landslide that hit a mountainous village in Yunnan province on Friday morning.

The landslide struck Gaopo village in Zhenxiong county of Zhaotong, about 550 km northeast of the provincial capital, Kunming.

The 46 residents who died included 27 adults and 19 children. Two other people were injured and sent to a hospital for treatment, with no life-threatening conditions.

All the deceased have been identified and their names were reported by media outlets, Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.

The victims' families will receive 20,000 yuan ($3,218) in compensation for each relative killed said a county official. There will also be a relief fund of 11 million yuan allocated by different levels of governments in the province for various relief efforts, county officials said at a news briefing on Saturday.

The disaster caused a projected economic loss of 45.5 million yuan, including damage to houses, crops and livestock, transportation, telecommunications and power systems.

The county has sent 150 tents, 300 quilts, 300 warm garments, 5 tons of rice and other basic necessities such as water and instant noodles to the affected zone.

The incident was declared a natural disaster caused by continuous rain and snow during the past weeks, according to an investigation report released by geological experts in Yunnan.

The decimated village is located in high, steep mountains with loose mud-rock foundations, which tend to shift after being saturated with rain and snow, said the report.

Jiang Xingwu, from the Yunnan provincial land and resources department, said the mudslide also related to an earthquake that struck a nearby county, Yiliang, in September. The quake caused 81 deaths at the time; a month later, a landslide buried a primary school in Yiliang county, killing 18 students and one other person.

Top State leaders, including Party chief Xi Jinping, have ordered all-out efforts to recover the bodies, resettle affected residents and prevent secondary disasters.

More than 1,100 rescuers helped to retrieve the victims. They used excavators and front-loader trucks to sift through massive piles of debris. Their search operations were slowed by the size of the affected area, the depth of the flattened houses, and below-freezing temperatures as nearby mountains were covered with snow.

The landslide area - 120 meters long, 110 meters wide and 16 meters deep - produced about 210,000 cubic meters of mud and rock.

The surviving 629 people from 136 households in the village have been resettled in a safe area.

Zhenxiong county officials have decided to relocate the entire village, with preparations to begin soon for selecting a new site.

Yang Jiequan, a woman who was leaving of the village and narrowly escaped the deadly mudslide, returned to her house only to find her husband and two sons did not get away in time.

Yang said she first heard a thud. Turning her head to look back, she saw her home flattened by the rush of mud.

Zhenxiong county has called for donations to help with disaster relief. Hu Congcai, a civil affairs official in Zhenxiong county, said so far the total contributions exceeded 1 million yuan.

Xunhua News Agency contributed to the story.


(China Daily 01/13/2013 page2)