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Shenzhen: 91 people Still Missing

By Terry

About 900 people were evacuated as a major landslide that hit Shenzhen on Sunday. Seven people have been pulled from the rubble with minor injuries but 91 people are still missing as hundreds of rescue workers are working tirelessly to find them.

Shenzhen's emergency management office said on its official micro-blog that the landslide has enveloped a vast area of 380,000 sq m (455,000 sq yards) covering it with up to 10m (32ft) of mud at an industrial park.

Authorities reported that a giant man-made mound of earth and construction debris became unstable and collapsed.

Shenzhen is a major industrial centre in China with a large land mass. It is located in the southern Province of Guangdong, across the mainland border from Hong Kong. It until thirty years ago, the city was but a remote fishing village until a visionary leader by name Deng Xiaoping transformed it into the country's most successful economic zone sprawling with self-made entrepreneurs.

China's Land and Resources Ministry made a press release on its website saying that initial investigations showed the landslide happened when a huge mound of soil, cement chunks and other construction waste became unstable.

"Because the mound was very large, and the angle of its slope was overly steep, this led to it losing stability and collapsing," it said.

State news agency Xinhua reported that the landslide led to an explosion at a natural gas pipeline. Workers have cleaned up about 400m of damaged pipeline and are now fixing it.

Residents cleared from the surrounding area admitted to hearing loud roars when the landslide happened.

Video footage of the incident also emerged showing waves of red soil quickly engulfing and crushing buildings. It was posted online by Beijing Daily newspaper.

People's Daily said the mound had accumulated at a stone quarry that had been converted into a dumping area with its entrance and exit facing an industrial district.

For the past thirty years, millions of migrant workers from around China, including many of my relatives, have flocked into Shenzhen to seek better jobs and opportunities.

However, following the series of industrial accidents the city has experienced this year, including in Tianjin, people are having doubts about the city's rapid industrialization and safety standards and Chinese authorities had vowed to improve standards.

The incident which took place around 11:40 (03:40 GMT) on Sunday morning in Guangming New District of Shenzhen affected 33 buildings, according to emergency officials. They are comprised of three workers' dormitories, a canteen, several factories and offices and other buildings. The city's residents have expressed views to Chinese media that the disaster could be as a repercussion of illegal landfill with construction materials and earth.

State media cited officials who said that 59 men and 32 women were still missing and that "signs of life" had been detected at three separate locations. Hundreds of rescue workers, Police and Special Forces are presently at the scene helping with the operation.

President Xi Jinping has ordered local authorities to ensure that they put all efforts into the rescue mission.

The incident comes after huge explosions at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin in August which claimed approximately 200 lives.

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