Search continues for 64 still missing in Shaanxi landslide

Updated: 2015-08-14 07:31

By Ma Lie(China Daily)

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Search continues for 64 still missing in Shaanxi landslide

Large digging machines work to move rocks and mud at scene of a landslide in Shanyang county, Shaanxi province, on Thursday. [Photo/China Daily]

A team was continuing to search for 64 people missing after Wednesday's landslide in Shanyang county, Shaanxi province, on Thursday.

One person believed to be missing came forward on Thursday afternoon to say he had not been in the area when the landslide struck, as authorities had previously thought.

The search was halted briefly early on Thursday morning when it began to rain and large cracks were discovered in the mountainside by the rescue team.

Fourteen people survived when more than 1.3 million cubic meters of mud and rocks hit a Wuzhou Mineral Company mining site early on Wednesday morning.

The landslide swept through 15 workers' dormitories and three farmers' houses, burying the people inside.

The cause of the accident has been questioned, with local farmers saying the area has been mined for vanadium ore over a long period, making the mountainside unstable. The company declined to comment.

"Geological experts are busy designing a new rescue plan to speed up progress," said Kang Mingliang, director of the county government office and spokesman for the rescue operation, on Thursday morning at a news conference.

The rescue team consists of more than 700 people, including firefighters, armed police, police officers, mining rescue workers, doctors and nurses. Thirty large digging machines are being used to move rocks and mud at the accident scene, Kang added.

Farmers living in a 6 km radius around the site have been evacuated to a safe area and 24-hour monitoring of the area was put in place to prevent secondary disasters, Kang said.

The cause of the landslide was not mentioned at the news conference, although it was questioned why it had happened despite there being no rain in the past week.

An armed police officer who took part in the rescue work said that the mountain is made of slate which might become loose by repeated blasting for ore.

The spokesman said that an expert team has assembled to investigate the cause of the accident.