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3 dead, 80 missing in Chongqing landslide

AT least three people were killed and 80 others were missing after a landslide buried houses and an iron ore plant in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality yesterday.

A huge wedge of rocks and mud estimated at 600 meters long and 40 meters high crashed down Jiwei Mountain at a mining area in Wulong, state radio said.

The rocky debris, measuring 1 million cubic meters, filled a valley and buried the iron ore plant and six houses.

The trapped people included quarry workers, residents and passers-by. Authorities said students were among the victims.

The landslide also led to a cut in power and communications in many parts of Tiekuang Township.

Villagers told China National Radio that unrestrained mining by the Sanlian quarry over a long period had made the mountain unstable. Rain several days ago also may have contributed to the mishap.

Authorities rushed more than 500 rescuers, including firemen and officers from the armed police force, to the site. But fallen rocks and a muddy road forced all vehicles and ambulances to a halt about 5 kilometers away from the area, and rescuers had to walk to reach the site.

Authorities also sent in excavators and bulldozers, and the county's civil affairs department dispatched food, tents, quilts and mineral water.

The factory started operations in the 1940s and was contracted to a businessman more than 10 years ago.

Tiekuang township is about 70 kilometers from downtown Wulong and some 170 kilometers southeast of downtown Chongqing.

Similar landslides have been reported around China, including one that killed at least 277 people in Shanxi Province last year.


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