DUJIANGYAN, Sichuan, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Four more bodies were retrieved on Friday after a landslide in southwest China's Sichuan Province, local authorities said.
Rescuers continue to search the scene of the landslide, which happened on Wednesday morning in the village of Sanxi, Zhongxing Township, in Dujiangyan City.
As of Thursday afternoon, 18 deaths had been reported in the landslide while 107 people across the city were missing or can not immediately be reached.
Rescue work is being made difficult due to continuous rain.
Ma Liang, a villager in Sanxi, whose home is 300 meters from the landslide, told Xinhua he was cooking when the landslide happened. He heard a roar and rushed out to find homes buried by mud and debris.
"I'm sure some people had been buried," Ma said, adding that village officials had asked locals to evacuate on Tuesday night. However, villagers refused as they had never seen a landslide there and believed the place was safe.
Xiao Chaochun, a 58-year-old tourist from neighboring Chongqing Municipality, said he and his family spend two months in the town every summer.
Xiao and 17 other people living in a rural home inn 1 km away from the landslide relocated Wednesday afternoon.
However, Yan Yuchun's mother was not so lucky. Yan, a resident of the capital city of Chengdu, said the rural inn her mother was staying in had been buried by the landslide.
Yan said her mother called her on Wednesday morning before the landslide happened. Yan's mother and some other tourists had been supposed to leave the village on Tuesday night but could not due to wet and slippery roads.
The landslide, which had buried 11 homes in the region that was struck by a devastating earthquake in 2008, is believed to have been triggered by severe rainstorms since Monday evening.
The affected area of the landslide is 2 kilometers long, with about 1.5 million cubic meters of mud, rock and debris, said Qiao Jianping, a researcher with the Institute of Mountain and Environment under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Ma said about a quarter of the residents in Sanxi started to open rural home inns to attract tourists about a decade ago.
On average, each inn can accommodate 40 people, Ma said. But the exact number of people buried when the landslide flattened the 11 homes is hard to estimate, he added.
Though experts said hopes dimmed for those buried, search and rescue work still continues.
Dozens of people rushed to a school in the town to help with the registration of their missing family members on Friday.
Some people have posted notices for the missing people on their microblogs.
Local authorities are continuing to verify the exact number of those missing.
Continuous and severe downpours have wreaked havoc in Sichuan since Monday, leading to floods and landslides. Rainstorm-triggered floods have left more than 120 roads in the province cut off and caused the collapse of 12 bridges, according to the provincial transport authorities.
Local meteorological authorities warned that a new round of heavy rain is expected to hit Sichuan next Wednesday.
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