At least six people have been found dead, more than 120 remain missing and 62 homes are covered Saturday after a huge landslide buried the mountain village of Xinmo in China’s Sichuan province, according to Chinese authorities.
A local government statement said an emergency response “to the first-class catastrophic geological disaster” is underway. More than 2,000 people — police, soldiers and civilians — are participating in the rescue efforts, according to officials, and have been working non-stop to search through the rocks and rubble for survivors.
Rescuers and local residents used ropes to move a boulder while dozens of others, aided by dogs to sniff out humans, searched the rubble for survivors, according to videos posted online by the Maoxian government and state broadcaster CCTV.
Bulldozers and heavy diggers also have been deployed to remove boulders, while villagers and soldiers lifted rocks with their bare hands. Rescuers brought spotlights to continue the search after sunset. Medics were seen treating a woman on a road.
No sign of the village could be seen in aerial footage, which revealed a grim and grey rock-strewn landscape covering that part of southwestern China where a river had flowed.
“It’s the biggest landslide in this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” said Wang Yongbo, one of the officials in charge of rescue efforts, referring to the disaster that killed 87,000 people in 2008 in a town in Sichuan.
Authorities say the landslide was caused by torrential rain, and the cascading debris of mud and rocks blocked a two-kilometer stretch of a river and a 1.6 kilometer section of a road, according to local officials.
Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly after heavy rains.