China landslide death toll rises to 19 as rescue work ends

All 19 people caught in a landslide in southwestern China’s Sichuan province Sunday have been confirmed dead, state media reported, announcing the end of rescue efforts.

Part of a mountain collapsed at around 6 am near a state-owned forestry station in Jinkouhe, near the city of Leshan, state broadcaster CCTV said.

The disaster sent mud and debris hurtling towards a construction site operated by a local mining company, where it “struck and buried parts of the production and living facilities at the mineshaft platform”, CCTV reported.

Nineteen people were confirmed dead as of 8 pm, the broadcaster said, adding that “search and rescue work has currently ended, and the cause of the… collapse is under investigation”.

Footage broadcast by CCTV showed rescuers and excavators picking through a tract of mud that had flattened a wooded hillside and strewn it with twisted metal and smashed masonry.

The Jinkouhe government earlier said the landslide had killed 14 people and left five missing.

An unspecified number of other mine workers “have been evacuated to a safe location”, according to CCTV.

Authorities sent more than 180 people and over a dozen pieces of rescue and recovery equipment to the site, the broadcaster added.

Contacted by AFP earlier Sunday, an official in Jinkouhe’s publicity department declined to give further details.

The settlement of around 40,000 people lies in a mountainous region about 240 kilometers south of the provincial capital Chengdu.

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