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Death toll from Zhouqu mudslide rises to 1,156

Updated: 2010-08-13 18:55
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ZHOUQU - The death toll from the massive mudslide in northwest China's Gansu Province has risen to 1,156 as of 4 p.m. Friday, with 588 still missing, local authorities said.

The toll stood at 1,144 by Thursday afternoon.

More than 1,500 survivors are living in tents or school classrooms while 8,300 have sought shelter with relatives and friends, said Zhao Minxue, head of the publicity department in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture which administers Zhouqu.

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Water and power supplies, and telecommunication services in Zhouqu are gradually back to normal thanks to swift repair efforts.

Power has been resumed in the key regions of the county seat and at 60 percent of households, the provincial information office said in a statement Friday.

Relief teams are digging new wells after finding two new drinking water sources and 21 unpolluted wells, it said.

Gansu had received 120.4 million yuan (US$17.7 million) in cash donations and relief materials by Friday afternoon, the provincial department of civil affairs said.

Meanwhile, relief workers continued to clear the water course of the Bailong River, which overflowed after being blocked by debris, amid fears that more downpours could trigger new floods and mudslides.

Rescuers tried to give dignity to the deceased as they were striving to search bodies in the debris. But this was no easy work sometimes as many bodies were buried meters deep in sludge.

"All the soldiers have done their best," said survivor Bai Chengxiang, 24. "If they could not find the remains of my aunt's family, I will have to accept the reality."

Heavy rains on Wednesday night and Thursday has brought new misery to the mudslide-flattened town, hampering relief efforts and leaving three people missing.

Elsewhere in Gansu, the new round of floods and landslides has killed 29 people and left further 27 missing in the cities of Longnan and Tianshui close to Zhouqu.

About 10,600 residents in Longnan have been evacuated after some regions in Longnan received more than 150 millimeters of rainfall from Wednesday night to Thursday morning.

Floods also have killed nine people and left 12 missing in Gansu's neighboring province of Sichuan over the past two days.