China mudslides kill 14, dozens missing

More than 1,100 rescuers race to find survivors buried in piles of sludge

Mudslides in a remote area of southwest China have killed 14 people and left dozens missing, state media said on Thursday, as more than 1,100 rescuers raced to find survivors buried in piles of sludge.

Torrents of mud slammed into homes in Puladi township in Yunnan province in the early hours of Wednesday when residents were sleeping, prompting the large-scale rescue effort, as forecasters predicted more rain in coming days.

Photos published in state newspapers showed rescuers laying down planks on a 300-metre-wide sea of mud which had buried at least 21 houses along with their inhabitants.

"The downpour, coupled with howling wind, was terrifying. My daughter, son and I did not dare sleep, but the mudslide took away my son anyway," Yang Guihua, her voice trembling, was quoted as saying by the official China Daily.

Yang's nine-year-old son is still missing, the report said.

The missing were mainly mine employees and local villagers. Rescuers had recovered 14 bodies so far, the official China News Service reported.

The latest mudslides come after at least 1,287 people were killed in mudslides 10 days ago in the northwestern province of Gansu, which virtually split the town of Zhouqu in two. Nearly 460 others are still missing.

The neighbouring province of Sichuan, which is only just recovering from the huge 2008 earthquake that left nearly 87,000 dead or missing, has also been badly hit by torrential summer downpours.

At least 15 people there have been killed in mudslides and hundreds more have been evacuated.

Qiao Jianping, a researcher with the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, said weaknesses sparked by the 2008 quake could last more than a decade, according to the China Daily.

The mudslides in Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan are the latest in a string of weather-related disasters across China in a summer of heavy rains that have triggered the country's worst flooding in a decade.

More than 2,100 people have so far been left dead or missing and 12 million evacuated nationwide, not including the toll from the Zhouqu disaster, according to government figures.

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