20 missing after landslides in China

Flood waters hamper rescue efforts after villages are hit by torrents of water and rock

Rescuers search for survivors among the rubble in Sucun village in Zhejiang province yesterday.
Rescuers search for survivors among the rubble in Sucun village in Zhejiang province yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING • More than 20 people remained missing a day after landslides swept through two eastern Chinese villages, state media reported yesterday, as rescuers combed through rubble for survivors.

Heavy wind and rains brought by Typhoon Megi triggered the landslides around 5.30pm on Wednesday, hitting the villages of Sucun and Baofeng in Zhejiang province, the official Xinhua news agency reported. At least 15 people were rescued yesterday and one body was found, it said.

Video footage on local media showed torrents of water and rock pouring down a mountain towards houses in the valley below while terrified onlookers screamed.

Twenty houses were destroyed and 17 flooded by about 400,000 cu m of debris, Xinhua reported a county official as saying.

"The rocks were flowing down like water. I was running so fast that I even lost one of my shoes," said 58-year-old Su Guohong. "There were five or six villagers running with me."

Mr Su Yumin, 64, said he had been cooking while taking care of his two grandchildren when he saw a huge rock tumble down.

"I took the kids out of the house. Now the whole family is safe, but two tonnes of rice we were drying outside have been lost," he said.

The government has relocated almost 1,500 residents and dispatched 2,200 rescuers to the scene with pumps and excavators, but roaring flood waters have hampered their efforts, officials said, adding that smaller landslides were likely to be triggered.

"Our work now is to save people, survivors above all, and at the same time prevent further secondary disasters occurring," the Suichang county armed forces chief said on state broadcaster CCTV.

Heavy rain fell on rescue workers in Sucun village yesterday, a day after Megi made landfall with winds of around 120kmh.

The typhoon dumped more than 30cm of rain in several areas and killed at least one person in Fujian province, who died after a flash flood surged through his home, according to local media reports.

Images on the state broadcaster showed parked cars on the streets of the coastal city of Xiamen submerged up to their windshields in flood waters.

The typhoon had smashed into Taiwan earlier in the week, leaving a trail of destruction and four people dead as it raked across the island.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline '20 missing after landslides in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe