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Death toll from NW China mudslide rises to 702; 1,042 still missing

08-11-2010 08:57 BJT Special Report:China Fights Worst Flood in Decades |

ZHOUQU, Gansu, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from a massive rain-triggered mudslide in Zhouqu County in northwest China's Gansu Province has risen to 702, with 1,042 others still missing, local civil affairs authorities said Tuesday afternoon.

Rescuers work in the mudslides-hit Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 10, 2010. The death toll from a massive rain-triggered mudslide in Zhouqu County has risen to 702, with 1,042 others still missing, local civil affairs authorities told a news conference Tuesday afternoon. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
Rescuers work in the mudslides-hit Zhouqu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture 
in northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 10, 2010. The death toll from a massive rain-triggered mudslide in Zhouqu County has risen to 702, with 1,042 others still missing, 
local civil affairs authorities told a news conference Tuesday afternoon. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Some 1,243 people have been rescued, Tian Baozhong, head of the provincial civil affairs department, told a news conference.

Of them, 58 who were seriously injured had been hospitalized, Ma Chengyang, deputy director of the provincial publicity department, told another press briefing Tuesday night.

Torrential rain on Saturday night prompted an avalanche of sludge and debris to crash down on the county seat of Zhouqu early Sunday morning, ripping many houses off their foundations and tearing multi-story apartment buildings in half.

The mud-rock flow has leveled an area of about 5 km long, 300 meters wide and 5 meters deep in the county seat with more than 2 million cubic meters of mud and rocks, severely damaging power, telecommunication and water supply facilities.

About 45,000 residents have been evacuated, as mudslides have destroyed more than 300 homes and damaged another 700. Moreover, 3,000 homes have been flooded.

More than 4,400 tents have reached Zhouqu but most of them have not yet been set up due to a lack of open space, Tian said.

About 16,000 more tents from the Ministry of Civil Affairs are still in Lanzhou, the provincial capital, Tian said.

The mountainous terrain has hampered disaster relief operations. Rescuers could only set up 100 tents in two settlement centers on the playgrounds of two middle schools.

"We have adequate tents, but insufficient space to pitch them," said Zhang Hongdong, a worker with the county's Red Cross Society.

Most people affected by the disaster sought shelter with their relatives and friends in nearby regions, Zhang added.

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