Tibet mining landslide offers little hope | News | DW | 30.03.2013
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Tibet mining landslide offers little hope

A large-scale search and rescue mission in Tibet has failed to find survivors after a giant landslide that buried scores of mineworkers. The search has been hampered, in part, by altitude and weather.

Chinese officials announced on Saturday morning that no survivors had been found, although rescuers were still looking.

There was bleak news from the Xinhua state news agency, with little hope that there would be further good news.

"The miners' survival chances were slim due to the scale of the landslide," a Xinhua report said. Only one body was reported to have been found.

State-run China National Television reported that "rescue workers have established three defensive lines" around the disaster zone to prevent "secondary disasters."

The workers were reported to have been buried early on Friday after a huge quantity of mud, rock and debris inundated the mine. Areas of Tibet are prone to landslides, particularly in places where mining activity is high.

Weather hampers efforts

The rescuers, some 2,000 in number, were reported to have set up camp halfway up a mountain. The disaster zone in Maizhokunggar county, east of Tibetan capital Lhasa, is 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) above sea level.

The teams were using radar and sniffer dogs to try to locate missing individuals, but the search was hampered by bad weather.

"Temperatures as low as minus three degrees Celsius have also affected the sniffer dogs' senses of smell," the Xinhua report added.

The agency said rescuers had also been suffering from slight altitude sickness and that they had been hampered by "further minor landslides."

Friday's landslide occurred on the same day that a gas blast at a coal mine in northeastern China killed 28 people.

rc/kms (AFP, AP)