In the wake of a devastating China landslide death count hits 25. This catastrophic event occurred in Zhenxiong County, profoundly impacting the local community and sparking a rigorous search for the dozens still missing.
Rescue workers, facing freezing temperatures and snow, worked tirelessly through the night in an arduous search for survivors. The landslide, striking two villages in the city of Zhaotong early Monday morning, buried houses under mounds of brown mountain soil.
"The mountain just collapsed, dozens were buried," recounted a local man surnamed Gu, who witnessed the harrowing event.
Gu painfully added, "They were all sleeping in their homes," indicating that four of his relatives were among those trapped.
According to China Central Television (CCTV), the landslide was triggered by a collapse in a steep cliff area at the top of a mountain slope. The immense scale of the landslide, with an estimated width of 100 meters (328 feet) and a height of 60 meters, has posed significant challenges for the rescue operations.
Due to unstable soil conditions, large machinery could not be utilized, complicating the rescue efforts. "If the excavation is unloaded below, the top may continue to collapse. It is difficult to carry out large-scale mechanical operations, and it is very difficult to rescue on site," explained a rescuer, highlighting the precarious nature of the operation.
The impact of this disaster extends beyond the immediate area. Over 500 people were evacuated from their homes, and nearly 1,000 rescue workers were dispatched to the site. President Xi Jinping has called for an "all-out" rescue effort. Chinese vice-premier Zhang Guoqing personally led a group to oversee the operations.
Firefighter Li Shenglong, speaking to state news agency Xinhua, emphasized the relentless nature of the rescue efforts: "Search and rescue efforts persisted through the night."
Despite the challenging conditions, rescuers and officials remain committed to finding those still unaccounted for.
The sense of urgency is palpable, as one villager told Jimu News, "It was very loud, and there was also a shake, it felt like a big earthquake."
Social media footage shows a grim scene with rescuers navigating rubble against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Personal belongings, reminders of the lives disrupted, are scattered among the debris.
This region, known for its remote and mountainous terrain, is no stranger to landslides. A similar tragedy struck the same county in January 2013, claiming at least 18 lives. The frequency of these events highlights the inherent vulnerability of this area to natural disasters.
In a separate incident, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Wushi county in Xinjiang. While no casualties were reported, the earthquake caused significant damage to homes and disrupted power supplies, adding to the series of natural calamities affecting the region.
As the search continues, the community holds onto hope, while also mourning the loss of those confirmed dead. The aftermath of the landslide in Yunnan province serves as a stark reminder of the power of nature and the resilience of those who face its unforeseen challenges.