At least 33 people died and 27 were missing after floods and landslides hit several areas of western China, local officials and the state media said on Friday.
Thousands of people were cut off by floodwater since Thursday in the Longnan area of Gansu province, where 24 people died and 19 were missing by Friday afternoon, the local government said.
Four people died and eight were missing in Gansu’s Tianshui county, while five died and 500 were trapped in the Mianzhu area of neighbouring Sichuan province, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
A total of 12,000 people were evacuated in Gansu’s Tianshui and Longnan areas, where up to 4,000 homes were destroyed and 6,000 damaged, the ministry said.
A later report by the official Xinhua news agency said more than 3,000 people were still trapped by floods in the two areas, after rescue workers had evacuated 10,604 residents.
Another 4,600 people were evacuated and 4,800 homes destroyed in the Weinan area of Shaanxi province, which borders both Gansu and Sichuan, the agency said.
Floods and massive mudslides killed at least 1,156 people and left nearly 600 missing in Gansu’s Zhouqu county earlier this week.
Meteorologists have forecast more heavy rain in Zhouqu and other areas of Gansu in the next few days.
The agency earlier quoted a geologist as saying logging of the steep mountainsides surrounding the Bailong river in Zhouqu was a major cause of the mudslides.
'A lingering drought lasting almost nine months in some local areas, and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that might have loosened the mountainside and caused some cracks, are also reasons behind the devastating mudslides,” government geologist Tao Qingfa said.
Mudslides could be more devastating than floods because they moved rapidly and swept up an increasing load of trees, rubble and even cars, Tao told the agency.
“They move so fast that there is hardly any time left for evacuation,” he said.
Thousands of troops and civilians have concentrated on relief work in Zhouqu since Wednesday, holding little hope of finding any more survivors following the huge mudflows that razed one village, devastated two others and damaged apartment blocks in the county town on Sunday.