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BEIJING (AFP) - Rescuers said Monday that 107 people buried in a landslide triggered by heavy rain in southwest China had a "slim" chance of
survival, as the country battles a string of weather-related disasters.
State television showed rescuers searching through a huge mudslide and what appeared to be concrete rubble in the village of Dazhai in Guizhou
province, and a reporter said workers had still not found any signs of life.
"One hundred and seven people from 37 families were trapped or buried," an official in Guanling county emergencies office told AFP, adding that the
number of casualties was not yet known.
"It's raining hard, making the rescue work difficult," said the official, surnamed Wang. Local rescue headquarters, quoted by the official Xinhua
news agency, added the victims had a "slim" chance of survival.
Villager Cen Chaoyang said he had managed to escape his house when he heard the landslide.
"I called for the others to flee, but it was too late. I saw some people behind me being buried," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Premier Wen Jiabao asked rescuers to make an all-out effort to free people, and also to "prevent similar accidents happening in nearby areas, to
protect people's lives," state radio reported.
Large swathes of eastern, central and southern China have been lashed by torrential rain for days. On Sunday, authorities said nearly 69 million
people had been affected.
So far this month, at least 235 people have died and more than 100 have gone missing in flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rains, according to
China's civil affairs ministry.
Around 4.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes over the past two weeks, the official China Daily said.
The National Meteorological Centre warned that the rain falling on Guizhou showed no sign of abating, with heavy to torrential downpours forecast on
The centre also warned of a high probability that southwestern areas of the province would suffer more rain-triggered geological disasters, and asked
residents to be on their guard.
The floods are among the worst in the southern part of the country since 1998, when more than 3,600 people were killed and over 20 million displaced,
Last week in the central province of Hunan, water from a swollen river surged to its highest level in a decade, deluging small towns and rural areas
upriver from the capital Changsha.
In neighbouring Jiangxi, more than 75,000 people had to be evacuated after a dyke burst on the Fuhe river, and an army of over 2.6 million people in
the province worked to shore up flood defences.
Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei warned regional officials on Friday that their jobs were at stake if they failed to protect people from the
effects of the deluge, his ministry said.
At least 379 people have died in flooding in China this year, the government said at the weekend, putting economic losses at 82.4 billion yuan (12.1