More than 120 persons are feared dead after a landslide occurred in Sichuan province, a location in southwest China.
The tragic incident occurred in a countryside surrounded by mountains.
Li Yuanjun, a local official who arrived in the village shortly after the slide, said he saw near total devastation.
“In the entire village I could only see one home,” Mr. Li told the Sichuan Daily. “The rest had been totally buried by rocks.”
Local media reports confirm dozens were buried beneath the mud after huge rocks and a mass of earth crashed into homes early Saturday.
According to The Associated Press, the landslide came from a mountain, sweeping through a cluster of 62 homes and a hotel in the village of Xinmo in Mao County at about 6 a.m.
Mao County is on the Tibetan plateau’s eastern side with over 110, 000 residents. Most inhabitants of the area are of Qiang ethnic minority, according the government website. It’s a popular location for tourism.
Sichuan provincial government said over 140 are feared dead, adding that about 1.6 kilometers of road were buried in the disaster.
It remains unknown if any tourist was there when the landslide occurred.
CCTV reported in a breaking news broadcast that an emergency worker confirmed 5 dead bodies have been found as search and rescue operations continue.
Sichuan Daily newspaper wrote on its website that three persons were found underground although one of the survivors later died.
Experts told CCTV that the landslide was likely triggered by rain. A meteorologist interviewed by CCTV said there was light rain in the area that would continue for a few days.
The Sichuan Daily said rescuers made contact with a villager buried under the rubble who answered her cellphone when they called and burst into tears. The woman was in the bedroom of her home when the landslide hit the village, and rescuers were trying to reach her, the report said.
Search and rescue efforts were underway involving more than 400 workers, including police.
CCTV showed footage of rescuers in bright orange uniforms using earth movers and excavators but also relying on ropes to pull at huge rocks and shovels to dig up the dirt.
Provincial police sent 500 rescuers with two dozen sniffer dogs to the site, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
President Xi Jinping has called for an all-out help to save victims who may be alive, and in need of urgent help.
“It’s the biggest landslide to hit this area since the Wenchuan earthquake,” said Wang Yongbo, a top official among the emergency workers told state broadcaster China Central Television.
Wang was referring to China’s deadliest earthquake this century, a magnitude 7.9 temblor that struck Sichuan province in May 2008, killing nearly 90,000 people.
The paper also said a family of three, including a month-old baby, managed to escape just as the landslide started to hit their house.
Qiao Dashuai told CCTV that the baby saved the family because he was woken up by the child’s crying and was going to change the baby’s diaper when he heard a noise that alerted him to the landslide.
“We heard a strange noise at the back of our house, and it was rather loud,” Qiao said.
“Wind was coming into the room so I wanted to close the door. When we came out, water flow swept us away instantly,” adding that they struggled stay alive until help came from medical workers who took them to a hospital.
Qiao said his parents and other relatives had not been found.