China landslide kills 22

Beijing -

A landslide in southwestern China on Friday killed at least 22 people, including seven from one family, with about two dozen others trapped, local authorities said.

Rescuers carry the body of a victim after a landslide hit Zhenxiong county, Yunnan province. Credit: REUTERS

The landslide buried 16 homes in the village of Gaopo in the southern province of Yunnan, the provincial government said on its website.

A total of 22 deaths had been confirmed so far, including the seven from a single family, it said, while 20 to 30 people were still buried. Emergency teams had rescued two villagers from the debris, it added.

Photos posted on the website showed rescuers in orange uniforms digging in wide swathes of clumpy mud against a backdrop of snow-covered, terraced hills.

A video posted on a Chinese social networking site appeared to show a group of villagers digging through thick mud and debris to uncover a body, which was carried away on a stretcher.

Yunnan province, which borders Myanmar and Laos among others, is a relatively impoverished area of China, where rural houses are often cheaply constructed.

Gaopo is in Zhenxiong county, about 550 kilometres north-east of the provincial capital of Kunming.

The mountainous area is prone to landslides. One in a neighbouring county in October killed 18 children, while two earthquakes in Yunnan in September - one of magnitude 5.7 - left 81 people dead and hundreds injured.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made an overnight trip to the quake zone at the time to comfort survivors, many of whom had taken refuge in tents erected on a public square.

The province has experienced unusually low temperatures in recent weeks, as China suffers in what authorities have called its coldest winter in 28 years. - Sapa-AFP