Saturday, May 25, 2024

Death toll surges after road collapse in southern China

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The death toll has risen to 48 after a section of a major road collapsed in a mountainous region of south-western China, sending more than 20 cars down a steep slope.

Officials in the city of Meizhou said three other people were still to be identified.

It is not immediately clear if they had died, which would bring the death toll to 51. Another 30 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The collapse followed a month of heavy rains in a mountainous part of Guangdong province. Vehicles fell down the slope and sent up flames as they caught fire.

Rescuers and excavators working at the site (Xinhua via AP)

Search work has been hampered by rain and land and gravel sliding down the slope. The disaster left a curving earth-coloured gash in the otherwise verdant forest landscape.

Wen Yongdeng, the Communist Party secretary for the Meizhou emergency management bureau, said: “Because some of the vehicles involved caught fire, the difficulty of the rescue operation has increased.

“Most of the vehicles were buried in soil during the collapse process, with a large volume of soil covering them.”

He added that the prolonged heavy rainfall has saturated soil in the area, “making it prone to secondary disasters during the rescue process”.

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