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August 16, 2009

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3 Shanghai tourists and a guide lost in landslide

Three Shanghai tourists and a Zhejiang tour guide were missing in a landslide in west Zhejiang Province yesterday afternoon after they tried to cross the Luxi Gorge on foot, Shanghai tourism authorities said.

The landslide hit the group of 18 people organized by a Shanghai outdoor sports club about 4pm in the Jingning She Autonomous County of Lishui City.

Shanghai Party secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Mayor Han Zheng appealed to Zhejiang police to do their best to find the missing tourists and by late last night the search continued.

The 15 tourists who escaped the landslide were transported to a village named Guiyuan and were safe, said Shanghai Tourism Administration.

Its officials, however, wouldn't release the name of the club or the group's itinerary.

The Zhejiang police duty office said last night that the cell phone signal in the affected landslide area was weak and officials were still trying to connect with rescuers.

The Coodle Club, a local outdoor sports club, had organized a similar activity for this weekend.

The activity's leading organizer, willing only to be identified by his online forum ID "Baozi," said he was not clear whether the Coodle Club group was involved in the accident. "I can't manage to contact them, maybe because the cell phone signal is too weak," he said.

Zhejiang police said the tourists may not have been familiar with the local weather and general conditions and didn't take lifesaving gear with them.

Luxi Gorge is a popular destination with outdoor sport fans and independent tourists. The 40-kilometer-long gorge, featuring fantastic mountain peaks and ecological environment, has been praised as the "best gorge in east China."

Shanghai Tourism Administration warned tourists that landslides could occur frequently in southern China because of the flood season.

They should choose fully developed scenic areas for their activities and venture out with certificated tour agencies if necessary, it recommended.


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