Landslide rescue work underway

By Hou Liqiang and Li Yingqing (Chinadaily.com.cn) 08:46, January 23, 2024

President Xi Jinping has called for all-out efforts to search for and rescue the people missing after a landslide on Monday in Zhenxiong county of Yunnan Province.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the instruction after the landslide buried 18 houses and left 47 people missing at around 6 am on Monday in Liangshui village.

As of press time, rescuers had pulled eight people out of the rubble, but all of them were dead, local authorities said. Over 500 residents had been evacuated.

Roughly 300,000 cubic meters of soil and rocks collapsed in the landslide, according to a preliminary estimate.

Xi said that rescuers must take every measure to search for the missing and minimize casualties, and he also demanded that monitoring and early warning be enhanced at the site to prevent secondary disasters.

Efforts should also be made to comfort the families of the victims and properly accommodate villagers affected by the disaster, he said.

Xi said natural disasters, as well as traffic accidents and work safety incidents, are prone to occur with the Spring Festival approaching and due to the recent cold waves.

He asked authorities across the country to fulfill their responsibilities to prevent and curb the occurrence of major accidents with casualties.

They should take comprehensive measures to ensure the safety of people's lives and property, he emphasized.

Premier Li Qiang asked the local government to evacuate residents who are under potential threat as soon as possible, and to make appropriate arrangements for them, considering that the area where the disaster occurred is in a cold alpine region.

Vice-Premier Zhang Guoqing has led a work group to Yunnan to guide the rescue operation.

A woman who lives not far from the landslide site said she felt as if an earthquake was happening when the disaster happened.

"There was big noise when the landslide occurred. The ground shook once," the woman was quoted as saying by Jimu News, a Hubei-based news outlet.

According to a media release from the Ministry of Emergency Management, 812 members of the national comprehensive fire and rescue team have joined the rescue operation in Liangshui village, with the help of 174 vehicles.

In addition, 102 members of the country's national rescue team usually dedicated to workplace accidents and 33 employees with China Anneng Construction Group Corp joined the rescue operation, the media release said.

Rescuers first had to move big rocks out of the way with the help of excavators before they carried out search work in certain areas.

Li Shenglong, a firefighter from Zhenxiong county, said the big rocks posed a great challenge to the rescue operation.

Temperatures in the village dropped below 0 C on Monday, and the wind made conditions bitterly cold, he said. However, rescuers had to wear light clothing to ensure that they could move flexibly.

Using life-detection instruments, Li and his teammates had to closely monitor the locations where the excavators worked. "Once any signs of life are detected, we will turn to small excavators or just dig with the help of tools by ourselves," he said.

The National Health Commission said in a media release that two villagers who suffered soft tissue injuries because of the landslide had been hospitalized.

After the landslide occurred, the commission asked emergency medical rescue teams from Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, both of which are adjacent to Yunnan, to be ready to go to Zhenxiong at any time, it said.

The commission also said members of the national medical expert team for emergency rescue in the two provinces were told to be ready if needed.

Furthermore, a work group sent by the Yunnan health commission had arrived at the site. Some hospitals at the provincial, prefectural and county levels in Yunnan were instructed to be prepared to receive disaster survivors.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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