Hopes fade in grim search for Xinmo landslide survivors

Posted June 26, 2017

Police captain Chen Tiebo told the broadcaster that "There are several tonnes of rock which fell on the site", and that, "It's a seismic area here". Women watch as earthmoving equipment digs at the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Maoxian County in southwestern China's Sichuan Province, Sunday, June 25, 2017.

A rescue dog was seen taking a zipline to help stranded victims after a devastating landslide in China.

So far nine bodies have been recovered, but rescuers are still searching for 109 missing people after the landslide buried the picturesque mountain village in the country's south-west.

Hopes of finding additional survivors are now fading, however.

The mountain rock slip engulfed more than 40 homes and a hotel in the village of Xinmo in Maoxian county, Sichuan Province, around 6am local time on Saturday. The provincial government said on its website that an estimated 8 million cubic meters (282 million cubic feet) of earth and rock - equivalent to more than 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools - slid down the mountain.

Relatives were sobbing as they awaited news of their loved ones.

The landslide blocked a 2km (1.2-mile) stretch of a river, the news agency added. "The houses were shaking, as if there were an natural disaster".

'It was as if strong winds were blowing by, or a big truck rubled by, ' Tang Hua, a 38-year-old from a neighbouring village, said. We rushed out and saw massive smoke. "We realized it was a landslide".

A family of three managed to escape the disaster after an infant in the home woke up crying half an hour before the landslide hit their house, the father, Qiao Dashuai, tells the news agency.

Another 110 people living nearby in another part of the village were being evacuated to a township school last night, fearing there might be rain and secondary disasters. His parents and other relatives were among the missing.

Authorities say that heavy rain is responsible for the landslides, with light showers expected to continue during Sunday's search.

Al Jazeera's Florence Loi, reporting from a location close to the Xinmo village, said the area had been struck by a massive natural disaster in 2008, which killed almost 90,000 people.

In 2014, a landslide in the same county killed 11 people when it struck a section of a highway.