107 trapped in a landslide caused by rain in China's southwest; little hope for survivors

BEIJING (AP) — Hundreds of distraught villagers huddled in tents Tuesday as rescuers searched for family members buried after a landslide trapped at least 107 people in rain-hit southwestern China.

But there appeared to be little hope for survival as rescue efforts were hindered by rain Tuesday morning, threatening to wash more mud down hill slopes.

Many homes were buried when the landslide struck the village of Dazhai in Guizhou province on Monday afternoon after days of rain, a resident helping in the rescue effort, Huang Pangzun, told The Associated Press by phone.

Makeshift tents were set up on site as first aid stations and soldiers carrying villagers waded through water and mud as they evacuated 300 residents, state broadcaster CCTV showed on its morning broadcast.

The number of casualties was not immediately known, said an official in Guizhou province who would give only his surname, Xue. Another official, interviewed by CCTV, said nearly half a hill had collapsed, engulfing a wide area in soil.

Vice premier Hui Liangyu arrived at the scene Monday night to oversee rescue efforts, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

CCTV showed still images of rescuers in orange overalls heading to the site on foot along a winding mountain road and later bent over a large mound of earth, tugging at large concrete slabs buried in it.

Large areas of southern China have been hit by flooding in the last two weeks, with at least 377 people killed and another 142 missing — not including those from Monday's landslide. More than 3 million people have fled their homes over the past two weeks, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

On Sunday, floodwaters began receding in the hard-hit south and workers finished repairing a dike breach that forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

But torrential rains have continued in the southwest, where the landslide occurred, said Xue, the provincial official who works in the flood prevention headquarters.

"The landslide was triggered by heavy rains in the past few days ... There is little chance that the people who are trapped will be able to survive," Xue said in a phone interview from Guiyang, the provincial capital, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) northeast of the landslide-hit area.

"I heard a huge 'bang' this afternoon when it was raining before I realized it was a landslide," resident Huang told AP. "Some people did not manage to run away and I assume that they are all dead."


Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS ADDS details on rescue, number of evacuated, arrival of vice prime premier. corrects death toll from floods, number missing.)