Death toll in China mudslide climbs to 270

Other News Materials 18 September 2008 09:21 (UTC +04:00)

A mudslide in northern China which engulfed several buildings and a market after a dam at an illegally operated mine burst has killed up to 270 people, the official Xinhua news agency said Thursday, reported dpa.

Ten days after the disaster, 260 bodies have been recovered, while 10 people were still missing, rescuers were quoted as saying.

Investigations in the accident which happened at Tashan mine near the town of Linfen in Shanxi province focus on how the mine operators were able to build the unlicensed waste reservoir and operate for years without permits.

Huang Yi, a spokesman of the national work safety authority, questioned why local authorities had not taken action against the unlicensed mine. "The possibility of corruption must be investigated," Huang was quoted as saying.

Despite residents' concerns over its safety, the dam had not been inspected for years.

It is believed that local authorities had initially attempted to cover up the extent of the disaster by publicizing a far lower death toll.