CHINA NATIONAL RADIO, XINHUA, CCTV (China), CENTRAL TIBETAN ADMINISTRATION
LHASA – Rescuers have recovered 21 bodies three days after a massive landslide in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region that buried more than 80 mine workers, China National Radio reported on Monday.
The landslide occurred three days ago in Maizhokunggar County, about 68 kilometers from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, reports Xinhua. The disaster stuck a workers’ camp of the Gyama mine, at about 6 a.m. on Friday. “Large swathes of rocks suddenly fell down from the mountaintop and the huge sound shook the whole valley. It was a terrible scene,” said a local villager.
Rescuers have been hampered by the huge amount of debris, the 4,600-meter altitude and snowy weather, said Xinhua. More than 3,500 rescuers, along with 10 sniffer dogs and 20 life detectors have been deployed at the site to find potential survivors of the 83 unaccounted miners.
The workers were mostly migrants from the southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunna, Guizhou and Shichuan. Pang Chunlei, a Tibetan rescue commander told Chinese state television broadcaster CCTV he wasn’t optimistic survivors would be found.
“The workers live in tents and have been buried by the landslide. We are digging but … the collapsed area is just too huge. It covers the entire mountain gully,” Pang said.
In a statement, the Tibetan government in exile, based in Dharamsala, northern India, said “the tragic incident could be the result of aggressive expansion and large-scale exploitation of mineral in the Gyama Valley, a man-made phenomenon rather than a natural disaster.”
The Gyama mine is a large scale polymetallic deposit consisting of copper, molybdenum, gold, silver, lead and zinc with the potential to become the China’s biggest copper producer in the next 10 years. In the past decade, the mine has been a “major failure in terms of the social harmony and environmental protection in the area,” said the Tibetan government in exile’s statement.
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Tibet. Map Keithonearth