CHINA – A landslide struck Liangshui village in Zhenxiong county, Zhaotong City, southwest China’s Yunnan province on Monday (22 Jan) morning, burying 18 houses and leaving 47 people missing.
The disaster, which occurred at 5:51 am, prompted immediate action from authorities, as they initiated a level-III disaster relief emergency response plan to facilitate search and rescue efforts.
The provincial government has mobilized over 300 rescue workers, including more than 50 loaders and fire trucks, who are currently engaged in the challenging task of locating and rescuing the missing individuals.
President Xi Jinping, who is also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has called for all-out efforts to address the situation and minimize casualties.
The scale of the landslide is staggering, with a preliminary estimate suggesting that roughly 300,000 cubic meters of soil and rocks collapsed, burying the village. Over 500 residents were successfully evacuated ahead of the disaster, showcasing a proactive approach to disaster management.
President Xi emphasized the importance of taking every measure to search for the missing and minimize casualties during a critical period when natural disasters, traffic accidents, and work safety incidents are prone to occur, particularly with the approaching Spring Festival and recent cold waves.
Efforts to enhance monitoring and early warning systems at the site are underway to prevent secondary disasters.
President Xi also stressed the need to provide comfort to the families of the victims and ensure proper accommodation for villagers affected by the disaster.
Rescue operations faced significant challenges as large rocks obstructed access to certain areas. Li Shenglong, a firefighter from Zhenxiong County, highlighted the difficulties posed by these obstacles, requiring the use of excavators to clear the path for search and rescue teams.
Despite harsh weather conditions, including temperatures below 0°C and biting winds, rescuers had to wear light clothing to maintain flexibility during their operations.
Using life-detection instruments, rescue teams closely monitored areas where excavators worked. Li Shenglong explained that if any signs of life were detected, smaller excavators or manual tools would be deployed for a more delicate and precise rescue effort.
The National Health Commission released a statement reporting that two villagers suffering from soft tissue injuries had been hospitalized. Emergency medical rescue teams from neighboring Sichuan and Guizhou provinces were put on standby, and the national medical expert team for emergency rescue in these provinces was prepared to deploy if necessary.
A work group from the Yunnan health commission has arrived at the site, coordinating with hospitals at various levels to be ready to receive disaster survivors. Tragically, the death toll has risen to 11 as of early Tuesday (23 Jan), underlining the severity of the situation.
A total of seven people have been located and confirmed dead, while 213 residents have been successfully evacuated to safer locations.
The ongoing search and rescue efforts involve 795 workers, supported by one drone and 120 vehicles, including excavators, loaders, and transport vehicles.
To aid the displaced residents, more than 100 tents, 400 quilts, 200 cotton coats, and 14 sets of emergency lighting equipment have been provided.
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