Hopes fade for miners in Tibet after landslide

Efforts to save 83 people buried in gold mine hampered by weather conditions and debris

Rescuers march to an area to search through rock and debris at a gold mine after a mudslide in Gyama village, in Maizhokunggar County of Lhasa, Tibet.

Rescuers march to an area to search through rock and debris at a gold mine after a mudslide in Gyama village, in Maizhokunggar County of Lhasa, Tibet.

 

Rescuers in Tibet digging for survivors of a giant mudslide that buried 83 people at a gold mine said the chances of finding anyone alive at this stage were slim.

Gyama village in Maizhokuggar county was devastated on Friday when the area that collapsed covered about 4sq km. The death toll has risen to 21 people, with another 62 still missing, China National Radio said today.

Efforts to locate the bodies are being hampered by debris, the 4,600m altitude of the mine and snowy weather.

The Chinese government has been encouraging development of mining and other industries in Tibet. The region is rich in natural resources, such as copper, chromium, bauxite and other precious minerals and metals, although extracting it has been difficult.

In recent years Beijing has boosted the infrastructure to help get workers in and resources out more easily.

Speculation emerged online that the disaster occurred because of excessive mining in the area’s fragile ecosystem but these criticisms were swiftly removed or blocked.

The mine was operated by the Tibet Huatailong Mining Development Co which is part of China’s biggest gold producer, China National Gold Group Corporation. The mine is located 68km east of the regional capital Lhasa.

“Large swathes of rocks suddenly fell down from the mountaintop and the huge sound could be heard in the whole valley. It was a terrible scene,” a local villager told the Xinhua news agency.

The only survivor of the disaster was Zhao Linjiang, whose brother was among the dead miners.

“I was numbed by the scene and trudged back and forth, crying all along,” he said.