Rescue efforts are underway in Zhaotong, Yunnan province, China, where a landslide struck at 05:51 local time (GMT+8) on Monday, leaving 11 dead and 47 still missing. President Xi Jinping has ordered an all-out rescue operation in the region, where sub-zero temperatures are further complicating the mission.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the landslide resulted from a collapse in a cliff, with the mass measuring approximately 100m in width, 60m in height, and an average thickness of around 6m, according to reports from the Xinhua News Agency. The affected area witnessed the evacuation of more than 500 residents, with almost 1,000 rescue workers dispatched to the site. Chinese vice-premier Zhang Guoqing reportedly led a team to guide the ongoing rescue operations.
Despite challenging conditions, including the remote and mountainous terrain, search and rescue efforts persisted through the night, as reported by firefighter Li Shenglong. The affected villagers, mostly comprised of elderly individuals and children, were caught unaware as the landslide occurred while many were still asleep on Monday morning. Witnesses described the event as both loud and seismic, similar to a substantial earthquake.
Disturbing video clips shared on social media depict rescuers trying to navigate through piles of rubble against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Personal belongings are scattered amidst the collapsed structures, showcasing the severity of the disaster.
This unfortunate incident is not the first for the region, as Zhaotong faced a similar tragedy in January 2013, when at least 18 people lost their lives in a landslide. The mountainous terrain in southwest China is known to be prone to such geological hazards, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by residents in these areas.
In a separate event, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Wushi county in China’s Xinjiang at about 02:00 local time on Tuesday. While state broadcaster CCTV reported no casualties, some homes suffered damage, and certain areas experienced power supply disruptions.
As rescue teams tirelessly work to locate the missing individuals in Zhaotong, the affected communities cope with the aftermath of these natural disasters. The incidents underscore the vulnerability of regions prone to geological events and the importance of proactive measures to mitigate such risks in the future.