Many feared dead following the landslide in Maowun County, Ngaba
On Saturday, 24 June, at around 6 am (local time), a landslide hit Xinmo Village in Maowun County, Ngaba. Among the 360 residents of the village, up to 141 people are reportedly still missing.
The landslides on Saturday followed two days of torrential rain. According to Chinese official news, about eight million cubic meters of hillside descended on the village. Over 40 houses were buried as a result of the landslide.
The landslide also blocked river channels, leading to floods that then submerged the lower part of the village, flooding 46 homes.
Videos of the disaster, acquired by Free Tibet's research partner Tibet Watch, show the scale of the landslide and flooding, which left cars partially submerged and caused torrents of muddy water to pour into Xinmo Village.
A villager from Lianghekou village, opposite to Xinmo village, told official media “I woke up early in the morning on Saturday because my house was shaking heavily. I thought it was another earthquake, but when I looked out of the window I saw the village [Xinmo] shrouded in smoke. When the smoke disappeared, the village was gone."
Chinese authorities stated that hundreds of rescuers and equipment had been sent to the village. To date, three people from one family have been rescued, while 15 people have been confirmed dead. That number is expected to rise.
The rescue effort was criticised by some Tibetans. One local Tibetan posted videos on social media about how Chinese rescuers were working at the site and wrote “the Chinese government always boasts about being a developed country. But in reality, look at these weak rescue teams and their insufficient equipment. You can see their inabilities from these videos”.
Most of those caught in the landslide were elderly people and children. Many younger adult residents had already gone to work by the time that the landslide hit.
The county’s history
Maowun County is located 40 km from Wenchuan County, which was affected by a huge earthquake in 2008, leaving more than 80,000 people dead or missing.
Maowun County is traditionally part of the 18 Kingdoms of Gyalrong whose inhabitants descended from border armies of Tibetan empires in the past. Later, due to the fragmentation of great Tibetan empires, the generals of Tibetan border armies settled there and ruled over their own areas - these gradually became the 18 Kingdoms. For this reason, Maowun County is called 'Cavalry County' in Tibetan.
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