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Death toll in Chongqing landslide climbs to 15

A total of 15 hikers were confirmed dead and four others remained missing today, two days after rain-triggered flood and landslide stranded a 35-member tour group in a canyon in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

As of 11:30 am today, rescuers had saved 16 hikers, retrieved 15 bodies and were continuing to search for the missing, the municipal government said in a press release.

The document said two of the survivors were still in hospital, while all the others had gone home.

Families had identified 11 bodies, and will each receive 20,000 yuan (US$2,857) in relief fund from the government, it said.

Most of the hikers had bought insurance policies of up to 100,000 yuan and their families would get compensation from the insurance companies, too, it said.

The hiking group, comprising 18 women and 17 men, were touring the Tanzhangxia Canyon in Wanzhou District and entered a forbidden area of the canyon Saturday afternoon under the guidance of a resident.

A flash flood triggered mountain torrents and swept away most of the tourists at about 3 p.m..

The DIY tour group was set up via a Chongqing-based travel website without approval from the local tourism authorities, said Pu Binbin, secretary-general of the Wanzhou District Committee of the Communist Party of China.

The Chongqing meteorological bureau said today parts of the municipality suffered the heaviest rainstorm in five decades over the past weekend. In the worst-hit county of Chengkou, five townships were drenched.


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