More than 4,500 soldiers and rescue-workers were on Monday battling against time to search for survivors a day after landslides and flooding left more than three hundred people dead in northwestern China’s Gansu province. (According to AP, the death toll from landslides more than doubled on Tuesday to 702, as crews in three countries across Asia struggled to reach survivors from flooding that has afflicted millions of people. Rescuers digging by hand through mud found a 52—year old man who had been trapped for more than 50 hours inside a leveled apartment building in the remote town of Zhouqu, where local officials said more than 1,000 other people were still missing. Rescuers with sniffer dogs discovered the man, Liu Ma Shindan, who was in weak condition but breathing normally.)
Late on Monday night, officials said the death toll, from what they described as one of China’s worst ever incidents of flooding this past decade, had risen to 337, with 1,148 others still missing. Around 1,242 people had been rescued as of Monday night.
Officials had said on Monday afternoon that 137 people had died as of 4 pm, with 1,348 others still missing. Another 117 people were injured, with 28 people “severely wounded” and four in a critical condition.
Local officials in the predominantly Tibetan county of Zhouqu said there were fears of further flooding with debris damming the Bailong river. Soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Lanzhou command had to use explosives to blast the debris and safely release the waters. He Qingcheng, a PLA commander, told Xinhua the army carried out three explosions on Monday morning, following which thelevel of the flood-lake had receded by a metre.
More than 45,000 residents in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture have been evacuated, officials said, with 300 homes destroyed and another 3,000 flooded. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao toured the remote region on Sunday. “For those who were buried under the debris, now is the most crucial time to save their lives,” he told a meeting of local officials late on Sunday night.
Sunday’s landslides are the latest of a series of natural disasters that have struck China this year. Officials said this week that floods in 2010 have left 1,072 people dead and 619 missing.
More than 140 million people in China's 28 provinces and regions had been affected by this year’s flooding, which has caused direct economic losses estimated at 210 billion yuan ($ 31 billion). The floods have destroyed 1.1 million homes, damaged 9.72 million hectares of farmland and displaced 10.42 million people.