Asia-Pacific

China landslide death toll jumps

The death toll from landslides in north-west China has risen to 337, with 1,148 people missing, state-run Xinhua news agency says.

The landslides in Zhouqu county, Gansu province, were triggered by torrential rains that hit the area on Saturday.

Landslide debris blocked a river, which burst its banks, sending water, rocks and mud down several hillsides and on to homes.

Earlier on Monday evening the toll had stood at 137, with 1,348 missing.

The landslides in Gansu came as China was struggling with its worst flooding in a decade, with more than 1,000 people reported dead and millions more displaced around the country.

In Gansu, the landslides tore down apartment blocks, and buried houses and streets under deep layers of mud.

'Few survivors'

More than 4,500 soldiers, firefighters and medical staff have been sent to the area, as well as helicopters and other aircraft.

They have been searching amid the rubble and mud for survivors, and a 74-year-old woman was reportedly found alive on Monday morning.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has visited Zhouqu, urging rescue workers on in their efforts and comforting those affected.

Images from the area showed victims' bodies wrapped in quilts or blankets being carried away on stretchers.

"There were some, but very few, survivors," one resident was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency. "Most of them are dead, crushed into the earth."

Zhouqu county, part of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, lies in a narrow valley by the Bailong river, which was cut off by the landslides.

Troops have been blasting through rubble blocking the river in an attempt to prevent further floods, with more rain forecast for later this week.

Authorities have sent tents, food and water, but some supplies were reported to be running low.

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