August 8, 2010 3:35:32 pm
At least 127 people are dead and 2,000 missing as flood triggered landslides wrecked havoc in a Chinese province as water with sludge and rock submerged a township with 1.3 million population,mainly inhabited by Tibetans destroying everything that came in its way.
Hundreds of homes were found toppled and several residents still trapped in the Chengguan Township and several villages in northwest China’s Zhouqu County in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province,official media reports reaching here said,quoting ruling Communist party officials.
“76 people were injured,while nearly 2,000 others in the county were still missing. About 45,000 people have been evacuated,” Xinhua said,quoting a statement from the provincial civil affairs department.
The Tibetan Autonomous region with over 1.3 lakh population,mainly Tibetans. has been buried with mud and rocks. Sludge as thick as two meters was spread across some major roads in the county. Many trapped residents were waiting for rescuers atop buildings an official statement said adding that a primary school and some governmental offices in the county were damaged.
As soon as the news broke out Prime Minister,Wen Jiabao rushed to the spot while President Hu Jintao ordered all out efforts by army and civilian forces to mount a massive rescue efforts to save people.
Wen had set up temporary headquarters for rescue work aboard a plane heading for landslide-hit Zhouqu County to coordinate the relief activities.
The tragedy began with Torrential rains last night which led to the landslides said Diemujiangteng,head of the county. The Bailong River on the banks of which the township was built had overflowed and a large body of slow moving water engulfed Chengguan Township.
“Many people were trapped. Now sludge has become the biggest problem to rescue operations. It’s too thick to walk or drive through,” he said.
“It’s very hard to locate the people washed away by floods. It’s hard to say what their chances of survival are,” He said.
Peng Wei,head of the county’s fire department said,”the county is in a valley and the river runs through the middle.”
“I heard the fierce storm around 11:30 p.m.,later I found that a mud-rock flow had hit our residential building. The cars in the yard had all been damaged,” Peng added.
“Someone said the fifth floor of my residential building had been submerged. People are busy looking for family members and friends,” said Li Tiankui,a resident who lived near the Bailong River.
“Several small landslides have occurred in the valley before,but they didn’t arouse much attention,” Li said.
Residents Zhouqu village said several single storey residences have been buried under the mud. Officials said mud hampered the rescue operations. “It is too thick to walk and drive through” one official said.
Water spewed out the sides of the Bailong River due to debris blocking it and took a different downstream course than usual,engulfing buildings along the riverbank. A total of 19,000 people living in Shawan and Lianghekou townships situated below the lake had been evacuated,Mao said.
The landslides occurred at around midnight in Zhouqu County and a barrier lake had formed on the Bailong River at around 1 am.
At least 50,000 residents in the county seat and nearby regions are believed to have been affected as floods have submerged half of the county and many houses were buried by landslides,local authorities said.
The heavy downpour had halted,but the prefecture’s meteorological bureau predicted heavy rains on the upper reach of Bailong River on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Two helicopters carrying demolition experts had left for the landslide-hit county to explode the barrier lake,according to the provincial flood relief headquarters.
Medical teams and 2,800 troops were also sent to the county by the People’s Liberation Army’s Lanzhou Military Area Command,according to the headquarters.
Rescuers were searching for the missing people,he said. Several thousand people have been either killed or missing in the floods and landslides in various provinces in China so far.
China has experienced terrible flooding in recent months with over 2,000 people dead or missing. Billions of dollar of worth of property was damaged.
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