One hundred and forty one people have been declared missing after a landslide buried 46 homes in southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Saturday morning.
The landslide came from a high part of a mountain in Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba hit Xinmo Village in Maoxian County at about 6 a.m., blocking a 2-km section of a river and burying 1,600 meters of road.
The provincial government has launched the highest level of disaster relief response and sent rescue teams to the site.
President Xi Jinping called for rescuers to “spare no effort” in their search for survivors, according to CCTV.
Xinhua news agency reported that more than 300 rescuers carrying excavators and life-detection instrument have been sent to the site, according to Tang Limin, spokesperson of Sichuan provincial government.
The AFP reported that a couple and a baby were rescued and taken to hospital.
Rescuers used ropes to move a massive rock while dozens of others searched the rubble for survivors, according to videos posted by the Maoxian government on its Weibo social media account.
Bulldozers and heavy diggers were also deployed to remove boulders, the images showed. Medics were seen treating a woman on a road.
Wang Yongbo, one of the local officials in charge of rescue efforts, said the vital signs of one of the survivors “are weak”.
“It’s the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” he said, referring to the disaster that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan.
Local police captain Chen Tiebo said the heavy rains that hit the region in recent days had triggered the landslide.
“There are several tonnes of rock,” he told the state broadcaster CCTV.
“It’s a seismic area here. There’s not a lot of vegetation,” Chen said.
Trees can help absorb excess rain and prevent landslides.
Some 500 people were taking part in rescue efforts, according to CCTV.
An emergency response “to the first class catastrophic geological disaster” is under way, the local government’s statement said, adding that the full extent of the landslide was at yet unclear.
China’s national weather observatory said more heavy rain was expected in parts of Sichuan and other southwestern provinces.