One dead, dozens missing after China landslides: reports

Suichang (China) (AFP) - One person has died and dozens are missing after landslides swept through two Chinese villages, state media said Thursday, as rescuers scrambled to find survivors.

Heavy wind and rains brought by Typhoon Megi triggered the landslides around 5:30pm (0930 GMT) Wednesday, which struck the villages of Sucun and Baofeng in eastern Zhejiang province's Suichang county, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Fifteen people had been rescued by Thursday evening but one woman had been found dead and 26 were still missing, it said.

Video footage on social media showed torrents of water and rock pouring down a mountain towards houses in the valley below while terrified onlookers screamed.

"The rocks were flowing down like water," a 58-year-old survivor told Xinhua. "I was running so fast that I even lost one of my shoes."

Twenty houses were destroyed and 17 flooded by roughly 400,000 cubic metres of debris, Xinhua cited a county official saying.

The government has relocated almost 1,500 residents and dispatched 1,200 rescuers to the scene with pumps and excavators, but roaring floodwaters have hampered their efforts, it said, adding that smaller landslides are "likely" to be triggered.

"Our work now is to save people, survivors above all, and at the same time prevent further secondary disasters occurring," the Suichang County Armed Forces chief said on state broadcaster CCTV.

Heavy rains poured on rescue workers during the day in Sucun village Thursday, but they had subsided in the evening.

Rescue workers in galoshes and hard hats walked the streets carrying shovels under bright floodlights, as earth movers carefully picked through the debris of collapsed homes.

Many residents of the village were elderly, reports said.

The disaster struck a day after Megi made landfall with winds of around 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour.

The typhoon has dumped more than 30 centimetres (around 12 inches) of precipitation in several areas and killed at least one person in Fujian, who died after a flash flood tore through his home, according to local media reports.

Images on the state broadcaster showed parked cars on the streets of the coastal city of Xiamen submerged up to their windshields in floodwater.

The typhoon had smashed into Taiwan earlier in the week, wreaking a trail of destruction and killing seven as it raked across the island.

It also caused an estimated Tw$1.31 billion ($42 million) in agricultural damage and left more than four million households without power, with around 170,000 still without power as of Thursday.