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August 17, 2009

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3 Shanghai tourists still missing after landslide

POLICE and rescue workers in east China's Zhejiang Province were yesterday still searching for three Shanghai tourists lost in a landslide on Saturday as tales of bravery and heartache emerged.

A Zhejiang tour guide also reported missing in the accident was located early yesterday morning.

An 18-member outdoor exploration group encountered the afternoon landslide when they tried to cross Luxi Gorge in Jingning She Autonomous County of Lishui City.

The other 15 members of the party were initially transported to the nearby village of Guiyuan after their ordeal.

The remaining 13 tourists in the group were back in Shanghai last night, while two would remain in Zhejiang, said the Shanghai Tourism Administration.

Wu Meixiang, an official with Jingning County government, said more than 200 people participated in the rescue effort. They were from eight county government departments, such as police, fire brigade, maritime and tourism. The government had also organized local residents to join the rescue team.

The three missing, all male, have been named as Zhang Lin, Liu Yujie and Liu Nuo.

The family of Liu Yujie and Zhang Lin rushed to Lishui yesterday.

The family of Liu Nuo could not be contacted yesterday.

Wu Lanping, Liu Yujie's girlfriend, said she contacted a tourist, Chen Yao, who told her that Liu Jujie was swept away while trying to save a group member.

"As far as I can determine, Zhang was the first to be swept away," she sobbed as she spoke to Shanghai Daily. "Liu Yujie, Liu Nuo, and tour guide Chen Jianchao tried to come to Zhang's rescue, but were swept away as well."

Chen, 30, a Jingning resident, told police a similar story. He said the three were stranded on a rock in the middle of the river after Zhang slipped from their clutches.

They all lost their footing in heavy flooding after the landslide.

He said his head hit a rock and he was knocked unconscious. Rescuers found him about 4am.

Wu said officials told her they found two backpacks around the landslide area, but could not confirm who owned them.

Wu said 26-year-old Liu Yujie had only four months of experience in outdoor exploration. He was fascinated by the activity, she said.

Zhang Lin, 31, a native of northeast China's Liaoning Province, is the father of a two-month baby.

"I know he loves traveling, but we never imagined anything like this happening," said his father, who requested anonymity.

"We will never give up hope and continue to pray for him."


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