Beijing: At least 59 people were missing today when hundreds of tonnes of mud from a crumbling mountain crushed 22 buildings and triggered an explosion at a gas station in an industrial park in Shenzhen, China’s biggest manufacturing hub.
Regarded as one of China’s worst urban disasters, 14 people were pulled out of the mountain of mud that engulfed the vast area of the new industrial park in south China that borders Hong Kong.
Three people were injured in the disaster.
More than 1,500 people including firemen, police and health workers are involved in the rescue operations, searching the debris for any trapped victims.
A family of grand father and three children, the youngest nine-years-old and the oldest three years was among the 59 people missing, state-run CCTV reported.
A statement on Weibo, China’s micro-blogging site akin to Twitter, from the Shenzhen municipal government said the landslide also triggered an explosion at a nearby gas station.
A nearby section of the West-to-East natural gas pipeline exploded after the landslide struck the Hengtaiyu industrial park at around 11:40 AM which resulted in ammassing of more than 100,000 square metres of debris , state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Videos on China’s social media showed vast amounts of red mud pouring into the city with huge noise around 11 AM engulfing building after building.
The mud slide slowed down as it approached the main area of the estate providing time for many people to escape.
Rescuers evacuated more than 900 residents from the site by evening.
An area of 20,000 square metres was covered with soil, according to the Ministry of Public Security’s firefighting bureau.
It rained in Shenzhen today and roads at the scene were muddy, the city’s Daily Sunshine reported.
The 22 buildings buried in the landslide included two workers’ dormitories. A residential area was also situated beside the industrial park.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang ordered immediate rescue efforts saying no efforts should be spared to save lives.
Xi ordered Guangdong and Shenzhen authorities to do everything possible to minimise casualties, treat the injured and comfort the family members of the victims.
He also said scientific rescue efforts are needed to prevent further damages
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