Mudslides deepen China's flood woes
Rescuers searching for survivors of deadly weekend mudslides in northwest China pulled an elderly woman from the debris yesterday, buoying hopes that more of the 1300 missing could be found.
At least three villages were flattened by an avalanche of mud and rocks triggered by heavy rains in a remote area of Gansu province late Saturday, killing at least 127 people.
China is battling the worst flooding in a decade, with more than 2100 people dead or missing nationwide before the Gansu disaster.
Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited the devastated area yesterday, urged thousands of rescue workers at the scene to hasten efforts to find survivors and provide relief to thousands without food or clean drinking water.
"For those buried under the debris, now it's the most crucial time to save their lives," Wen was quoted by state Xinhua news agency as saying. State television yesterday broadcast images of him comforting survivors.
Early yesterday, 34 hours after the landslides, rescuers saved a 74-year-old woman in hardest-hit Zhouqu county, where streets were covered in mud 2m thick in places and more than 300 homes were destroyed.
The woman was in a stable condition and able to speak, Xinhua said, citing a rescue spokesman. State television showed her being carried away on a stretcher.
The landslides swept mud, houses, cars and other debris into a river running through Zhouqu, blocking the waterway and triggering flooding in the mountainous area, the government said.
The mudslides levelled an area 5km long and 500m wide, Xinhua said, with floodwaters up to three storeys high submerging half the county. Roads and bridges were destroyed.