First body pulled out of mud; 76 still missing

Escavators working at the site of a landslide that hit an industrial park in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province on Dec 22, 2015.
Escavators working at the site of a landslide that hit an industrial park in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province on Dec 22, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

Rescuers pulled out the first body from the massive landslide that hit an industrial park in Shenzhen, as the search for survivors continued.

The authorities yesterday revised the number of missing people down to 76, after more people were contacted by officials.

The government has increased the number of rescuers, with more than 4,000 men involved in the operation to find those buried by gushing rivers of mud on Sunday.

 
 

The body of a man was pulled out in the early hours of the morning.

"We detected vital signs several times, but our utmost efforts were in vain," firefighter Yao Yingzheng, who helped to pull out the man, told Xinhua news agency. "We felt disheartened when doctors pronounced him dead."

At a press conference, Shen- zhen's deputy mayor, Mr Liu Qingsheng, together with two other government officials, bowed in a moment of remembrance. Some 51 men and 25 women are still missing, according to the official tally.

Sixteen locations where buildings were buried have been listed as key excavation areas, Xinhua quoted Mr Liu saying.

Signs of survivors had been detected at at least one site, said Mr Lai Xiaolian, deputy chief of the Shenzhen Firefighting Department Command.

The landslide covered an area the size of 50 football fields under 10m of mud. Fingers are being pointed at the improper management of a construction-waste dump site near the industrial park.

The incident has once again raised concerns about lax regulation and industrial safety in China, coming just four months after huge chemical explosions in Tianjin killed more than 160 people.

Netizens have pointed out that it is "particularly shameful" for Shenzhen because it is supposed to be a wealthy, modern city.

Safety should be the first priority in China's city development and management, said a statement released yesterday following the two-day Central Urban Work Conference, Xinhua said.

"Safety awareness should permeate every aspect of urban work," the statement said.

Teo Cheng Wee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline 'First body pulled out of mud; 76 still missing'. Print Edition | Subscribe