Flooding And Landslides Devastate Chinese Town

Heavy rain across western China has caused more mudslides and flooding, killing at least 29 people and trapping more than 10,500 in the latest natural disasters to hit the country, state media said on Friday. In Longnan, in poor and remote Gansu province, 20 died and more than 10,000 were trapped following torrential rains and landslides, state television said. Another four died in Gansu's Tianshui city and dozens are missing province-wide. More than 1,000 people died in the nearby town of Zhouqu when an avalanche of mud roared down the slopes of a mountain last weekend after unusually strong downpours. More rain is forecast for Zhouqu over the next few days. In Sichuan province to the south, mudslides killed five people and trapped more than 500, Xinhua news agency added. The rains there started late on Thursday in Mianzhu, close to Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, it said. The area was hard hit during a massive earthquake in 2008 which killed at least 80,000 people. The mudslides were concentrated on the villages of Qingping and Tianchi, the report said. "The damage will be massive and casualties will also be big," one Qingping resident reached by telephone told Reuters, though he declined to give his name. Authorities were still trying to work out exactly how much damage had been caused, Xinhua said, suggesting the death toll may rise. Rescue efforts have already started. Qingping is surrounded by mountains, where the soil had been made unstable after the 2008 earthquake.