Southwest China Landslide Hits Primary School, Kills 16

A landslide toppled a primary school in China’s southwestern Yunnan province yesterday, killing at least 16 people, a month after two earthquakes shook the area.

Three people are missing, with students comprising 18 of the missing and confirmed dead, Peng Hong, a spokesman for Yiliang county of Zhaotong city, said by phone. Rescue operations continue, Yang Jianping, a police official, said earlier in an interview with China Central Television. Rain is still falling in the area and is forecast to continue for two days, CCTV said.

Two 5.6-magnitude earthquakes shook Yunnan and neighboring Guizhou province on Sept. 7, killing at least 80 people, destroying more than 6,650 homes, triggering landslides and disrupting power and communications.

A May 2008 earthquake sparked protests and accusations that corrupt officials turned a blind eye to substandard construction, including the use of low-quality cement that resulted in so-called tofu buildings. About 90,000 people were killed when schools and other buildings collapsed following the 7.9-magnitude temblor in Sichuan province, which borders Yunnan.

More than 500 rescuers are involved in the current landslide rescue effort, according to CCTV, including soldiers, police and a mining rescue team. Officers arrived at the scene at 12:20 p.m. to find boulders and thick mud hampering their efforts, Yang told CCTV.

Two houses were also struck by the landslide and one villager was buried, while a family of three managed to escape, the local government said in a statement on its website.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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