23 October 2016
Buildings were flattened (inset) or partly engulfed by the mudslide. Photos: Xinhua
Buildings were flattened (inset) or partly engulfed by the mudslide. Photos: Xinhua

91 missing as massive landslide crushes Shenzhen buildings

Dozens of people were missing after a massive landslide crushed as many as 33 buildings at an industrial park in Shenzhen.

The missing included 59 men and 32 women at 9:40 a.m. Monday, Xinhua reported.

The municipal government said the landslide, which occurred at about 11:40 a.m. Sunday, also triggered an explosion at a nearby gasoline station as it leveled the whole industrial park in Guangming New District in northwestern Shenzhen.

Some workers in dormitories at the park were still trapped after nearly 1,000 people were evacuated and 14 were rescued, of whom at least seven were injured, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.

Video uploaded by some netizens showed the mudslide hit the buildings like a tsunami and leveled a building in less than a minute.

Geological experts estimated that the landslide was as much as 6 meters high and covered an area as wide as 100,000 square meters.

That would give it a volume of 600,000 cubic meters, about the combined capacity of 240 standard swimming pools.

Staff from the city’s fire department and rescue teams, who were joined by their counterparts from Guangzhou and Dongguan, were searching for signs of life with detectors and dogs.

President Xi Jinping ordered Guangdong and Shenzhen authorities to do everything possible to minimize casualties, treat the injured and comfort the family members of the victims.

Local authorities said soil had been dug up in the past two years during construction work for the city’s subway system and was piled up as high as 12 stories at a location nearby.

It was suspected that illegal operations of the dumping yard were to blame for the disaster and that recent rain caused the hill of waste soil to crumble.

Residents of the neighborhood had reportedly filed complaints to the local government about the mountain of earth but were ignored.

Media reported that dumping of mud by truck drivers was seen every day before the disaster.

A driver could earn as much as 600 yuan (US$92.60) for each truckload.

As Shenzhen’s infrastructure undergoes rapid development, the lack of sufficient landfills for construction waste poses a high risk to the city, the report said.

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