Eight dead and dozens missing as landslide hits China’s Yunnan province amid bitter cold wave

Eight dead and dozens missing as landslide hits China’s Yunnan province amid bitter cold wave

At least eight people have been confirmed dead and dozens more are missing after a major landslide hit a village in China’s mountainous Yunnan province.

More than 500 others were forced to evacuated their homes as the disaster struck just before 6am in the village of Liangshui, near the town of Tangfang in Zhenxiong County.

Chinese state media reports said 47 villagers were unaccounted for after 18 homes were buried by the landslide. Of those eight bodies had been recovered as of Monday afternoon, according to a local news outlet.

Two others suffered injuries to the head and body, officials said.

The cause of the landslide wasn’t immediately known, although photos from the scene appeared to show snow on the ground.

Yunnan, in southwest China, is among several provinces in the country’s southern region currently experiencing a cold wave and bitter temperatures near or below freezing, according to the National Meteorological Centre.

Firefighters were climbing through the rubble searching for survivors in light snow, state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

The government dispatched nearly 1,000 rescue workers to the scene, along with nearly 200 rescue vehicles, the report said, with chinese vice premier Zhang Guoqing travelling to the site to lead the response operation.

One witness, a man surnamed Gu, said the victims “were all sleeping in their homes” when the landslide struck, and that four of his relatives were among those missing.

“The mountain just collapsed, dozens were buried,” Gu told a local TV station.

The landslide came just over a month after China‘s most powerful earthquake in almost a decade struck to the north-west in a remote region between Gansu and Qinghai province.

At least 149 people were killed in the 6.2-magnitude quake that struck on 18 December, reducing homes to rubble and triggering heavy mudslides that inundated two villages in Qinghai province.

Nearly 1,000 were injured and more than 14,000 homes were destroyed in China‘s deadliest earthquake in nine years.

Additional reporting by agencies