At least 91 missing after landslide in southern China

At least 91 people missing after landslide buried dozens of buildings in southern Chinese city of Shenzhen state media says

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Rescuers look for survivors after a landslide hit an industrial park in Shenzhen located in south China's Guangdong province on December 20, 2015.

Updated Dec 21, 2015

The number of people missing after a landslide in southern China has almost doubled to 91, state media said on Monday, a day after a huge mound of construction waste collapsed and buried 33 buildings in China's latest industrial disaster.

Premier Li Keqiang ordered an official investigation into the disaster in the southern city of Shenzhen, which comes four months after huge chemical blasts at the northern port of Tianjin killed more than 160 people.

A wall of mud smashed into multi-storey buildings at the Hengtaiyu industrial park in the city's northwestern Guangming New District on Sunday morning, toppling them in collisions that sent rivers of earth skyward.

The landslide was caused by the build-up of waste construction mud in the vicinity, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in a post on its official Weibo account.

Guangdong authorities sent a team to investigate and said the accumulation of a large amount of waste meant that mud was stacked too steep, "causing instability and collapse, resulting in the collapse of buildings", the post said.

A nearby section of China's major West-East natural gas pipeline also exploded, the official China Central Television (CCTV) broadcaster reported, although it was not clear if this had any impact on the landslide.

"The rushing mud was only 10 metres (11 yards) away from me," an unidentified man told the Shanghai newspaper The Paper.

"As I ran out of the village with another youth, I heard a large explosion," he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered provincial authorities to do everything possible to minimize casualties, treat the injured and comfort family members, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Premier Li ordered central government officials to help Shenzhen authorities in the rescue, Xinhua said. China's cabinet sent a group to help coordinate rescue efforts, which included more than 500 firefighters and 30 rescue dogs.

Hundreds of rescuers sifted through rubble looking for survivors after the landslide left everything covered in mud, leaving only a surface of yellow sand visible, Xinhua said.

Fourteen factories, 13 low-rise buildings and three dormitories were among the buildings flattened.

Xinhua said 14 people had been rescued and more than 900 people had been evacuated from the site by Sunday evening.

State television said that of the 91 missing, 59 are men and 32 women. The number of missing had earlier been put at 59

The frequency of industrial accidents in China has raised questions about safety standards following three decades of breakneck economic growth.