More deaths and more people trapped by mudslides in China.
Fresh rains in western China have caused more flooding and mudslides, adding at least 20 people to a death toll well over 1,000 in Gansu Province alone. In addition, more than 10,000 people in the province are trapped in rising flood waters. Rescue workers have already been sent to the affected areas and more rains are expected in the coming days.
Torrential rains in China’s Gansu, Sichuan, and Shaanxi provinces added further misery to areas already hit by disaster.
State media says downpours from Wednesday caused further flooding and mudslides that destroyed homes, crops, and cut off roads and communications.
Rescue workers led by China’s military, known as the People’s Liberation Army, have been sent to the areas to clear roads, search for dozens of missing, and bring in emergency supplies.
What’s being done
At a press briefing Friday Colonel Li Haiyang, director of the PLA’s emergency office, said they would do their best to help those trapped by the floods.
He says the PLA soldiers will go to the affected area as soon as possible to address the difficulties of the population. He says they will do their utmost to minimize the loss of lives and damage to property.
More than 6,000 soldiers and emergency workers are still cleaning up damage from a mass of mudslides Sunday in Gansu province’s Zhouqu county.
Military officials say heavy rains and mudslides raised a river by more than six meters causing it to flood and covering entire villages.
Buildings and homes were ripped apart and more than 1,000 people were killed and hundreds are still missing.
What’s making things worse
China’s official Xinhua news agency said it was the worst mudslide disaster in decades. Critics say unchecked logging and development contributed to the disaster, but officials have so far blamed nature.
China’s weather experts say more rain is expected over the weekend, which could complicate emergency work, but the rain won’t likely get heavy until Monday.
He Lifu, officials with China’s Central Meteorological Administration, says the rains could cause more mudslides and urges people in the area to pay close attention to early warnings on weather changes.
He says for example when in a heavy thunderstorm people need to be aware of danger. He says if there is a rainstorm people need to go to a safe place, especially if they are in dangerous terrain, and it is important to keep a lookout.
As rescue efforts in Zhouqu are turning to relief and clean-up, military officials Friday declared their emergency response efforts a success.
Hundreds of people were pulled alive from the mud-covered buildings and thousands were quickly relocated to safer areas.
Soldiers used explosives to drain a barrier lake created from mud and debris blocking part of the river and say it is no longer posing a risk.
And no outbreaks of disease have been reported.