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Landslides in Drugchu Kill 700

  • VOA News

Chinese authorities say the death toll from devastating landslides in Drugchu County in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gannan jumped to 702 Tuesday, with more than 1,000 still missing.

Rescuers continue to dig through the mud, some by hand, in search of survivors from the landslides that struck the remote region late Saturday and early Sunday as people slept.

A 52-year-old man was pulled from the rubble Tuesday, some 50 hours after the mudslides hit.

The rescue came after a 74-year-old woman was pulled alive Monday from a four-story building. However, hope of finding more survivors is dimming.

Rescuers using shovels pulled dozens of bodies from thick mud Tuesday.

The landslides were triggered by torrential rain that sent tons of mud and rock down steep and barren hills. Entire villages in Drugchu County in Gansu province were completely buried.

The treeless region of hilly pastureland is populated largely by ethnic Tibetan herders and farmers.

Premier Wen Jiabao visited the scene Sunday and Monday, urging the rescuers not to give up.

The Gansu mudslides are the deadliest single incident in weeks of flooding that have killed more than 1,300 people across China this year.

Authorities say the flooding of the Bailong River submerged half of Drugchu County, and that about 45,000 people were evacuated. Blockages on the river created an artificial lake three kilometers long.

More than 4,000 soldiers, police, firefighters and medics were deployed in the region, but road conditions made it difficult to bring in heavy earth-moving equipment. The rescuers brought tents, food and bottled water with them.

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