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Massive landslide hits Yunnan, burying 47 people in two villages amid freezing temperatures, China

Massive landslide hits Yunnan, burying 47 people in two villages amid freezing temperatures

A massive landslide in Yunnan province, China, early on January 22, 2024, resulted in at least 47 people buried and the evacuation of 500 others amid freezing temperatures. A large-scale rescue operation is in progress, with at least 1 000 rescuers and 200 vehicles.

A destructive landslide struck southwestern China’s Yunnan province early on Monday, January 22, 2024, burying at least 47 people in its wake. The disaster occurred at 05:51 local time (21:51 UTC on Sunday, January 21), ravaging two small villages, Hexing and Heping, located in the mountainous northeastern area of the province, bordering Sichuan and Guizhou Provinces.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of 500 people due to the hazardous conditions characterized by freezing temperatures and ongoing snowfall. Rescue operations commenced immediately, focusing on 18 houses that were buried under the debris. Unfortunately, two individuals were found deceased amidst the rubble, according to reports from CCTV, which cited a journalist present at the scene.

Zhenxiong County said the 47 victims belonged to 18 different households. The severity of the incident prompted the Chinese government to dispatch a substantial contingent of nearly 1 000 rescue workers, accompanied by close to 200 rescue vehicles, to the site.

A witness to the disaster, a man known as Gu, described the suddenness of the event to local media, stating, “The mountain just collapsed, dozens were buried.” Media coverage, including drone footage, further illustrated the extent of the devastation, showing a vast expanse of dark mud covering the landscape, with village houses buried under snow.

Videos released by local media depicted the intense rescue operations underway among the collapsed homes and buildings. People’s Daily reported that more than 500 individuals were evacuated from the region following the landslide.

In response, Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded a full-scale search and rescue operation to find those still missing. He emphasized the need for swift action to minimize casualties and called for enhanced monitoring, early warnings, and a scientific approach to rescue efforts to prevent secondary disasters.

The geographical setting of Yunnan, known for its steep slopes and unstable soil, makes it susceptible to landslides. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the current cold snap affecting much of southern China, including Yunnan, with the China Meteorological Administration reporting temperatures nearing or dropping below freezing.

This incident in Yunnan is part of a series of recent natural disasters in China, including last week’s rescue of tourists from a remote skiing area in northwestern China, where avalanches trapped over 1 000 people. In addition, China experienced a significant number of landslides last year, resulting in at least 70 fatalities, including more than 50 in an open pit mine in Inner Mongolia.

Furthermore, just over a month ago, a M6.2 earthquake struck a remote region between Gansu and Qinghai provinces, claiming at least 149 lives and causing substantial property damage.

Updates

07:57 UTC, January 23

The number of fatalities rose to 11. At least two survivors were rescued.

January 25

The number of fatalities rose to 44.

References:

1 Xi orders all-out search and rescue of people missing in SW China landslide – Xinhua – January 22, 2024

2 Dozens missing in southwest China landslide amid freezing temperatures – Reuters – January 22, 2024

3 Landslide in Mountainous Southwestern China Buries 47 People – AP – January 22, 2024

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One Comment

  1. Devastating enough when thinking of the adults, but even more so to think of the children, and babies that may be trapped and still alive under that debris. Prayers the rescue workers find all those still alive and are able get them out safely.

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