Landslides death toll in China now over 700

The death toll from landslides in north-western China has more than doubled to over 700.

Rescuers digging by hand through mud found a 52-year old man who had been trapped for more than 50 hours inside a flattened apartment building in the remote town of Zhouqu, where local officials said more than 1,000 other people were still missing.

Sniffer dogs discovered Liu Ma Shindan who was weak but breathing normally.

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The disaster in China's Gansu province struck when a swollen river blocked by landslide debris burst, swamping entire mountain villages in the county seat of Zhouqu and ripping homes from their foundations.

The civil affairs department in Gansu province, said the death toll now stood at 702, up from 337 yesterday. Throughout the area, bodies were seen wrapped in blankets and tied to sticks or placed on planks and left on the shattered streets for pickup.

The ruling Communist Party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee met to discuss rescue and relief work, a move that will free up even more resources.

"It is now a critical time for disaster relief and rescue work. We must give the highest prominence to the protection of people's lives and properties," it said afterwards.

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The government said 1,042 were missing and about 45,000 were evacuated. It was not known how many of the missing were in danger or simply out of contact as workers rushed to restore communications in the area.

More rain is expected in the region over the next three days. Tents, blankets, food and water were all being rushed to the isolated area

Flooding in China has killed about 1,800 people this year and caused tens of billions of pounds in damage across 28 provinces and regions.

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