published Friday, October 5th, 2012

18 students die after landslide hits China school

BEIJING — All 18 elementary school students buried in a landslide were confirmed dead Friday, while one other person remained missing a day after the hillside collapsed and smothered part of a village in mountainous southwestern China.

Rescuers recovered the last of the 18 students’ remains early Friday, about 18 hours after the landslide smothered the Tiantou Elementary School and three farmhouses and damaged six other homes and farmland in Zhenhe village, the Yiliang County government said on its website. It said a person from one of the houses was missing, and a heavily injured person was in a hospital in stable condition.

The landslide dammed a river, causing its water to pool 15 meters (45 feet) across and 7 meters (21 feet) deep around the buried area, hampering rescue efforts and forcing the evacuation of 800 other people, the government said. Rescue teams removed the blockage and the water was subsiding, it said.

While officials have yet to give a cause for the landslide, the corner of Yunnan province has been lashed by rain in recent days and is prone to earthquakes. A series of quakes last month left 81 people dead and devastated parts of Yiliang county, which are still recovering.

Though Thursday was a holiday across China, the students who were killed had been attending school to make up for days missed after the quake, Yiliang officials said. Their school had been damaged in the quake and they were sent to Tiantou temporarily, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

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