Agence France-Presse in Beijing, 20 December 2015
A landslide which swept through an industrial park in southern China buried more than 30 buildings in a sea of mud, leaving 91 people missing and triggering a gas explosion, state media has reported.
Witnesses described a mass of red earth and mud racing towards the park in the city of Shenzhen on Sunday before burying or crushing homes and factories.
Xinhua said that as of Monday morning, 59 men and 32 women were missing in the landslide.
Shenzhen’s public security bureau posted a notice online Monday saying that at least 59 people were missing. No deaths were reported.
More than 1,500 emergency workers were involved in the rescue.
The landslide ruptured a natural gas pipeline and triggered an explosion at the Hengtaiyu industrial park which was heard about 4km away, the agency said.
It said debris covered more than 10 hectares (25 acres).
About 900 people were moved out of harm’s way before the landslide struck late in the morning in the city bordering Hong Kong, according to the Shenzhen Evening News newspaper.
The landslide buried 33 residential and industrial buildings, including two worker dormitories, state broadcaster CCTV said. But it quoted Ren Jiguang, deputy chief of Shenzhen’s public security bureau, as saying most people had been evacuated beforehand.
The cause of the slide was unclear. A video posted by Xinhua showed a massive dust cloud and piles of rubble where buildings once stood. Rescue helicopters were in operation near the scene.
“I saw red earth and mud running towards the company building,” one local worker who was quoted by Xinhua said.
“Fortunately, our building was not hit, and all people in our company were safely evacuated,” the worker said, adding that a fishpond broke the full force of the landslide.
A woman surnamed Hu told the Shenzhen Evening News she saw her father buried by earth in his own truck.
“It’s been hours after he was buried, and we are quite worried,” she said.
The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and the prime minister, Li Keqiang, ordered immediate rescue efforts.
The state council, or cabinet, sent a working group to coordinate rescue efforts, which involved almost 100 fire engines plus sniffer dogs, drones and other equipment.
A landslide last month that engulfed 27 homes in rural Zhejiang province killed 38 people.