Workers clearing rocks from a landslide discovered a bus Friday with as many as 27 people aboard, but authorities said there was little hope that any were alive after three days.
The landslide in central China's Hubei province occurred Tuesday, leaving one worker building a railway tunnel confirmed killed, another injured and two missing.
Checkpoint records were checked after Friday's discovery of the bus, which showed that 27 people were aboard, said Tang Mingyi, deputy director of the propaganda department in Badong county, Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.
"There's little hope that they're still alive," he said, referring to both those on the bus and the two missing workers.
The accident happened amid rising criticism over the environmental impact of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, on the Yangtze River in Hubei province. Local officials and environmentalists have said China faces a catastrophe if it fails to stop riverbank erosion, pollution and other problems. They argue that water entering formerly dry slopes leads to splits and fissures that weaken hillsides and cause soil to come loose.
However, the government's Xinhua News Agency has suggested there was no evidence of a connection between the dam and the landslide, about 125 miles to the west. The agency said landslides were common in the "brittle terrain" where the accident occurred. ( AP )