China landslide leaves at least 8 people dead, almost 50 missing in Yunnan province

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Beijing — A landslide in southwest China’s mountainous Yunnan province buried 18 homes early Monday morning, leaving 47 people missing and forcing the evacuation of more than 500 other residents, according to local government officials. At least eight deaths were confirmed after the bodies were recovered from the rubble, as survivors sought shelter and rescuers worked through frigid temperatures.

Electricity and water supplies had not been restored to the area around the hard-hit village of Liangshui by Monday afternoon.

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An image from China’s state TV shows rescuers working amid the rubble of destroyed homes after a landslide hit Liangshui Village, in the southwest Yunnan province, Jan. 22, 2024.

Reuters/CCTV


Almost 1,000 emergency and rescue workers were dispatched to the scene as Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all efforts to minimize casualties. He sent one of his government’s vice prime ministers to the site to lead search and rescue efforts.

The cause of the pre-dawn landslide was unclear, but one villager told Chinese media outlets that a coal mine was operating near the site and residents spotted cracks in the earth weeks before the tragedy. Another news outlet cited a local resident as saying some of the cracks in the mountainside had been large enough for a cow to disappear into.

47 Buried In Yunnan Landslide
Rescuers search for survivors amid the ruins of homes hit by a landslide, Jan. 22, 2024, in Zhenxiong County, Zhaotong City, Yunnan Province, southwest China.

VCG/VCG/Getty


The weather was expected to remain bitterly cold, with below freezing temperatures forecast to linger for at least three more days. There were also concerns that further landslides could strike in the unstable hillside communities, which would hinder the ongoing search and rescue efforts.

Rescuers said they could not bring in heavy machinery as the soil wasn’t solid enough.

Yunnan, where steep mountains rise up against the Himalayan plateau, is prone to landslides.



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