Landslide toll rises to 26 dead, search continuing for missing

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The death toll in a landslide that smashed into a village in Southwest China's Guizhou province rose to 26, with 25 people still under the rubble on Friday, three days after the disaster, according to local authorities.

The newly identified dead included two children, a mother with her baby and another woman, China Central Television reported.

On Friday, rescue resumed for those unaccounted for, with the help of rescue dogs and life detectors, the local government said.

The landslide occurred at around 9:20 pm on Tuesday in Pingdi village, Shuicheng county, burying 21 houses in a hillside area with about 2 million cubic meters of soil.

When the landslide struck, 62 people were at home.

Apart from the dead and buried, 11 people had been rescued and remained hospitalized on Friday.

The rescue team told Beijing News that a large section of mud and dirt tore loose from the rain-soaked hillside, making the area extremely unstable. Rescue operations were disrupted on Thursday after heavy rainfall trigged another landslide.

"Excessive rainfall has accumulated in the soil, and a landslide occurred again with 10 cracks found in the surface of the mountain," said Huang Jie, who is leading a taskforce for Blue Sky Rescue Team, a nonprofit volunteer rescue group. His team is participating in the rescue efforts in Pingdi.

He said all the people and equipment had to be evacuated and the rescue efforts suspended after the landslide on Thursday.

More than 900 people, including public security officers, armed police and emergency rescue workers have taken part in the rescue effort, as well as over 250 medical staff at the scene. More than 100 vehicles such as excavators and bulldozers were used for the rescue mission.

Heavy seasonal rains have caused extensive flooding and landslides across much of southern China.

Another landslide earlier on Tuesday left one dead and six missing at a highway construction site in Hezhang county, Guizhou province.

On Thursday, the finance department of Guizhou, together with the province's emergency management department, distributed 10 million yuan ($1.45 million) and 2 million yuan of disaster relief fund to Shuicheng county and Hezhang county respectively to cope with the aftermath of the disasters.

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