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November 18, 2009

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Landslide kills 23 in Shanxi Province

EIGHT children aged one to four are among 23 people confirmed dead in Monday's massive landslide that buried part of a village in northern China's Shanxi Province, local authorities said yesterday.

The landslide, covering an area of about 20,000 square meters, swept over six homes at about 10:40am on Monday in Zhangjiaju Village in Zhangzishan Township of Zhongyang County.

A county government spokesman said the last body was recovered early yesterday. Twelve of the dead were male and 11 female.

The victims were migrant workers at a nearby coal mine and their families. They were from five families from the Qiaojia County in southwestern China's Yunnan Province, the spokesman said.

More than 300 people helped in the rescue operation.

A family of three who lived nearby were saved shortly after the landslide.

"My wife and I and my daughter, who is not yet two months old, were sleeping indoors at that time. All of a sudden, mud flooded in and turned my bed over," said Wang Rongce, 27, a migrant coal miner from northwestern China's Shaanxi Province.

"We were pulled out of the mud by several migrant workers from my hometown. We were covered in mud, and my daughter wasn't even able to cry until the mud was washed off," Wang said.

His wife, Xu Xia, 20, was still traumatized and sobbing. "We're very lucky as we're still alive, although we lost all of our belongings," Wang said.

Geological experts confirmed yesterday that the accident was a loess avalanche, a term to describe a collapse of the weakly cemented loess soil. The landslide is still being investigated.


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