Heavy Rains Bring More Mudslides To China
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Associated Press reporter David Wivell has been in Zhouqu, and he says the disaster began with storms on Saturday night.
DAVID WIVELL: And then when the water eventually built up enough to break down the mud and rock barrier left by the landslide, the whole sludge of mud, rock, boulders and water just poured right down on the city and left a corridor of mud and destruction right through the center of town.
BLOCK: David, you've been in some of the worst affected areas. Why don't you describe what these places look like now?
WIVELL: The area surrounding the town looks quite normal. But once you get to the town there are a few meters of mud. It's covered the first floor's buildings, it's pushed cars and tractors and motorcycles around and squashed them into buildings. And in parts where the direct flow was, the mud goes up to the third, fourth floor buildings. So you're often on a level with what used to be the third or fourth floor of a building or a hotel. But it's ground level now.
BLOCK: I've read about a couple of rescues yesterday. Is that right?
WIVELL: So, many people are gone. And I think they'll never actually find many of the bodies. Some whole families were destroyed and there's nobody to even file a report. So it's quite possible that the official death toll, that's very much on the low side.
BLOCK: When you talk to people in this town, Zhouqu, what have they told you about how the government has responded?
WIVELL: They've been learning from these and they've got a process and a system. The troops go in, the doctors go in, the rescue teams go in and they're well provided for in terms of equipment when they can get it in. There's a full-on effort for this. And I think that's definitely recognized by the people there.
BLOCK: Given the damage of what's happened there in Zhouqu, would the plan be to evacuate everyone, to relocate Zhouqu entirely?
WIVELL: I don't think so. From what we've seen, they are working very hard to clean out the mud that's there and return the city to its original shape. Stores are already starting to open up on the streets that just two days ago were two meters thick with mud. People have opened those doors, cleared the - whatever mud got in and some of them are opening back up and selling things to the rescuers.
BLOCK: I've been talking with Associated Press reporter David Wivell about the devastation from flooding and landslides in Zhouqu in northwestern China. David, thanks very much.
WIVELL: Thanks for calling me.
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