At least 127 dead, 1,300 missing in northwest China mudslides

07:53, August 09, 2010      

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Policemen carry out rescue missions in Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 8, 2010. Firefighters sent by the Ministry of Public Security have saved 28 people from rain-triggered landslides in Zhouqu County of northwest China's Gansu Province as of 7:00 p.m. Sunday, according to the ministry. (Xinhua/Gao Jianjun)

At least 127 people have been confirmed dead in rain-triggered mudslides Sunday in a northwest China county, while rescuers are racing against the clock to search nearly 1,300 others who are still missing.

Heavy downpours triggered landslides and mud-rock flows in Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, early Sunday morning.

The rescue headquarters in Zhouqu estimated that 1,294 people are missing as of 9 p.m. Sunday. Earlier the provincial civil affairs department put the figure at nearly 2,000.

Another 117 were injured, including 29 in serious condition, as of 9:25 p.m.. In addition, 1,242 have been rescued from debris or brought to safety from places such as tops of buildings.

About 45,000 people have been evacuated, according to a statement from the provincial civil affairs department.

The water level in the county seat of Chengguan Township had declined by 40 cm, after floodwaters carrying mud and rocks submerged half the town in the small hours on Sunday, said Mao Shengwu, head of the prefecture.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao instructed the Gansu provincial government and other related departments to spare no efforts to save lives. Wen arrived at Zhouqu County at 4:35 p.m.

The China National Committee for Disaster Reduction, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Civil Affairs have lifted the national disaster relief response level to grade II, the second highest level.

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