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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Landslide in China kills 28
Trucks make their way down a highway washed away by landslides in Ma An Shan, in central Anhui province on 9 August
Some areas have been suffering torrential rain
A massive mudslide has engulfed villages in the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan, burying 600 homes and killing at least 28 people.

The disaster struck Xinping county to the south of the provincial capital, Kunming, early on Wednesday morning, after days of torrential rains.

Another 35 people were reported to be missing as at least 10 villages were hit by a wall of mud and rock.

Rescue crews and troops have now arrived in the area, but more rain is reported to be on the way and there are fears it could trigger more flash floods and landslides.

One local official said there was little chance of finding survivors.

"We have never seen such a mudslide. One like this is very rare, it is record-making," he told Reuters news agency.

It was the second deadly landslide to hit Yunnan in less than a week.

On Monday, a huge slide in the north of the province left at least 16 people dead, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Man-made crisis

The BBC's Beijing correspondent, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, says both disasters are being blamed on heavy downpours.

But he says there is little doubt that man is also to blame. Mountain sides have been stripped of dense forests that kept soil in place to make way for cultivation of tea, coffee and tobacco.

In the central province of Hunan, also badly hit by recent flooding, the army has been called in to evacuate flood victims and rebuild roads.

So far this year, nearly 1,000 people have been killed in storms and flooding in China.

Many died when torrential rain caused flash flooding and landslides in several provinces in early June.

China's northern provinces, in contrast, are suffering a severe drought, threatening millions of farmers and large areas of crops.

Many rural households have had no rainfall since late July.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
"At least ten villages were hit"
See also:

09 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
25 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
06 Aug 02 | Country profiles
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