Over 400 people trapped by deadly avalanches in Xinjiang

09:44, February 26, 2010      

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Two avalanches in Xinjiang have killed at least seven people and trapped more than 400 others as rescuers found more people being caught in snow on Thursday.


Helicopters are dispatched to rescue people trapped by avalanches in Xinjiang on Thursday, February 25, 2010. (Xinhua Photo)

The newly found victims brought the number of trapped people in Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture to more than 129, including 29 reported to have been trapped in an iron mine in Nilka county.

In another avalanche in Kunes Town, Hejing County of Xinjiang's Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, local authorities said at least 276 were trapped.

A rescue helicopter reached a coal mine in a small valley 20 km from the avalanche in Ili Kazak, where more than 100 workers were trapped, after receiving a report from local government.

The aircraft, which could not locate a landing spot, left after dropping some food and a satellite phone


Staff members load rescue materials onto a helicopter in Xinjiang, where at least seven people were killed and more than 400 others were trapped by two avalanches on Thursday, February 25, 2010. (Xinhua Photo)

The trapped workers saw the helicopter and waved but noise prevented the crew, including two Xinhua reporters on board the plane, from communicating with them.

Another airborne rescue mission is to be launched Friday morning.

According to head of the county's work safety department, surnamed Tan, a 3.7-magnitude earthquake struck Nilka county at around 5:51 p.m. Tuesday.

The seven people found dead in the avalanches included two herdsman in Bayingolin's Hejing County, two children in Ili Kazak's Xinyuan County and one iron ore miner and his wife and daughter.

The iron mine called Songhu produces 1 million tonnes of iron ores annually. It is adjacent to the Hejing county's Kunes township in Bayingolin.


Helicopters are dispatched to rescue people trapped by avalanches in Xinjiang on Thursday, February 25, 2010. (Xinhua Photo)

Xinjiang has been experiencing the heaviest snow and coldest temperatures in decades this winter. The public has been warned that due to large amount of accumulated snow, the warmer temperatures in Spring may bring severe floods and avalanches to the region.

Source: Xinhua
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