Landslide in China’s Yunnan Province Claims Two Lives, Dozens Buried Alive

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Two people have been killed and 47 more have been buried due to a landslide in southwestern China’s mountainous Yunnan province in Zhenxiong County.

This tragic disaster struck today, January 22, 2024, in the wee hours of the morning just before 6:00 a.m. in the village of Liangshui in the north-eastern part of Yunnan province and hit two villages, Hexing and Heping, near the borders with Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in Zhaotong city.

The landslide buried 18 houses at the foot of the hill because Hexing and Heping villages are sparsely populated and are in a mountainous area.

The Yunnan landslide occurred just over a month after the most powerful earthquake to ever strike China, which happened in December 2023 in a remote north-west region between Gansu and Qinghai provinces. The magnitude-6.2 earthquake claimed 149 lives, destroyed homes, and caused massive mudslides that submerged two villages in Qinghai province.

Additionally, nearly 1,000 people were injured and more than 14,000 homes were destroyed in what was China’s deadliest earthquake in nine years.

According to the Zhenxiong County Publicity Department, two bodies have been pulled from the rubble so far, and rescue efforts are ongoing to find more victims buried in 18 separate houses, despite the rescuers struggling with snow and freezing temperatures that were forecast to persist for at least the next three days.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged “all-out” rescue efforts and demanded the rescue teams work rigorously and reduce casualties as far as possible.

He also added that it is necessary to properly handle the work of comforting the families of the deceased and resettling affected people.

According to Minister of Emergency Management Wang Xiangxi, the cause of the landslide is still unknown, but more than 200 people have been evacuated from the region amid freezing temperatures and falling snow.

Xiangxi also said that more than 200 rescuers, 33 firefighting vehicles, and 10 loading machines were at the scene, combing through the debris for more casualties.

China has experienced a string of natural disasters in recent months, and Yunnan is among several provinces in the country’s southern region currently experiencing a cold wave and bitter temperatures near or below freezing.

In June 2023, 19 people died due to a landslide in the remote and mountainous South Western Sichuan province.

Heavy rains in August 2023 sparked a similar disaster near the northern city of Xi’an, causing the deaths of more than 20 people.

In September 2023, rainstorms in the southern region of Guangxi caused a mountain landslide that killed at least seven people.

According to the National Commission for Disaster Reduction and the Ministry of Emergency Management, natural disasters last year in China left 691 people dead and missing, which caused China direct economic losses of about 345 billion yuan ($48 billion).

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