2010/08/21

China to relocate hundreds out of mudslide-hit town

BEIJING, August 20, 2010 (AFP) - More than 1,700 people made homeless by devastating mudslides in northwest China are to be relocated to a resettlement area and may have to stay in tents there through the winter, state media said.

The news came as rescuers in other mudslide-hit areas of southwestern China continued to look for dozens of people buried by torrents of mud, following heavy summer rains that triggered the nation's worst floods in a decade.

In the northwest town of Zhouqu in Gansu province, where at least 1,407 people were killed and more than 350 others left missing in the August 7-8 tragedy, hundreds are living in schools that must be vacated for the new term.   Yang Jianguo, head of the civil affairs bureau of Gannan prefecture, where

Zhouqu is located, said those survivors would be moved to a village west of the disaster zone, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

More than 1,000 tents will be erected in a new settlement zone, with three tents for each family.

"They probably will have to spend the winter there, so winter tents will be used," Yang was quoted as saying.

Dozens of Tibetan monks on Thursday began a seven-day prayer ritual for the dead and the survivors in Zhouqu county, Xinhua reported. One-third of the population of Zhouqu is Tibetan.

In the southwest province of Yunnan, more than 1,100 rescuers were hunting for survivors buried in a sea of sludge that slammed into homes in Puladi township in the early hours of Wednesday when residents were sleeping.

Twelve people have died so far in the mudslides, which left another 80 missing, Xinhua said.

In neighbouring Sichuan province, 16 people have died since last week in mudslides and landslides triggered by heavy rain, and 66 others are missing, according to a separate Xinhua report.

A train travelling in Sichuan's Guanghan city derailed on Thursday after floods destroyed a bridge, plunging at least two carriages into a river, but all passengers were pulled to safety.

More than 2,100 people have been left dead or missing around the country this year in flood-related incidents before the Gansu disaster, according to government figures. Counting the Zhouqu mudslides, that toll rises to nearly 3,900.

The civil affairs ministry said Friday it had not calculated a new nationwide toll.