Rescuers shoveled and hammered at debris today searching for survivors buried under sludge, mud and mining waste in northern China after a landslide that killed at least 128 people, but hopes of finding anybody alive were fading.
The landslide that plowed into buildings Monday in a valley in Shanxi province's Xiangfen county also injured 35 others and trapped an unknown number of people under the rubble, local officials said.
A low-rise office building, a market and some houses were knocked down by the rapid surge of mud and mining waste, which formed a wall measuring three stories high and 600 meters wide, according to media reports.
State-run media had initially reported that there were hundreds of people missing, but later cited authorities as saying the figure could not be determined while an investigation was continuing.
The death toll rose to 128 today, state broadcaster China Central Television said on its evening newscast.
The official Xinhua News Agency cited local government official Lian Zhendong as saying rescuers had searched through 70 per cent of the rubble. But local officials said today they feared the chances of survival were slim.
"There were survivors on the first day and on the second day, but from day three, it's very likely that anyone we find in the future will be dead already," said a woman surnamed Dong who heads the propaganda department of Xiangfen county.
Dong told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that more than 2,000 police, firefighters and villagers were mobilized in the search, but conditions were difficult.