At least 41 construction workers are feared missing after a landslide buried their sleeping accommodations under rocks and mud in China according to a state media report. The landslide hit early on Sunday at a site in the mountainous Fujian province’s Taining county. These workers were associated with a hydropower project in the province.
The landslide probably occurred because of the heavy rains that have affected much of southern China since Wednesday, triggering floods and landslides. It was reported that rainfall in the Taining region had been 35% higher than average this year. In the 24 hours before the landslide, 215.7mm of rain fell in the area around the construction site.
The worker’s living area and one official building have been buried under rocks and mud with a volume of 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet).
Seven people were pulled alive from the rubble with injuries including broken bones. The injured are in hospital in a stable condition, Xinhua reported.
China’s president and prime minister both called for an all-out effort to save the missing men. China’s President Xi Jinping urged ‘maximum efforts’ for the rescue and care of those unaccounted for. He has also urged better local monitoring and safety checks.
Premier Li Keqiang echoed the demand, calling for the Ministry of Land and Resources to coordinate with local authorities on the search and rescue mission.
The Taining county official Wei said fire fighters and police were attempting to reach the buried. It has also been reported that mudslides and flooding affected few sections of roads to such extent that they were unpassable, hindering rescuers’ efforts to get heavy machinery to the site. However, by Sunday evening more than 600 rescuers had reached the scene, and were looking for survivors, using sniffer dogs, specialist equipment and heavy excavator vehicles.
The National Meteorological Center had warned residents in the province and neighboring areas to beware of possible landslides brought on by the heavy rain.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday that rainstorms led to the evacuation of more than 1,000 people in Guangxi region, and collapsed a road that left one person dead and one missing.
Deadly landslides are common in China. A landslide in December 2015 in the southern commercial hub of Shenzhen, which was caused by the improper storage of waste, buried 33 buildings and killed at least 58 people, with about 25 still believed to be unaccounted for.