Chinese officials declared all 18 primary school students dead on Friday, 18 hours after a landslide hit their school and three nearby farmhouses in the south-western Yunnan province.
The children had been brought to the school in Yiliang county from a nearby primary school that had been destroyed by an earthquake which struck the area in September killing 81 people, reported China's official Xinhua News Agency.
The students travelled to the "Tiantou school Thursday during a week-long national holiday to catch up on work missed because of the earthquakes," Peng Hong, an official with the county foreign affairs office said.
One person remains missing and is believed to be an owner of one of the farmhouses in Zhenhe village, reported Xinhua, citing local officials.
More than 2,000 locals, medics, police and military personnel tried to rescue those trapped, Yilang county government reported on their website.
"Debris, and mud blocked a nearby river, its water pooled around the buried buildings hampering rescue efforts."
More than 800 people living near the river blocked by the landslide were evacuated after the landslide struck the area around 8 a.m (local time) on Thursday.
Officials are yet to give a cause of the landslide, but said on their website that the area had been hit by heavy rainfalls in recent weeks.
Thousands of school students died in 2008 when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan province in the southwest of the country.
jlw/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP)