The landslide covered 450,000 square yards with 33 feet of silt, while the natural hill that the mud pile sat on remains intact.
Local workers in Shenzhen have admitted to the local news agency that hundreds of trucks carrying construction waste would dump trash every day into the pile that caused the landslide every day. The same report noted that authorities had been struggling to find space for construction soil waste since 2006.
The mudslide smashed into multi-storey buildings at the Hengtaiyu industrial park in the city’s northwestern Guangming New District, toppling them in collisions that sent rivers of earth skyward.
The dump was too high and slopes too steep, the ministry announced through its official microblog.
A woman whose parents and brother were buried at home, said more than 10 people, including seven children, lived next door and none managed to escape.
A company based in Shenzhen that conducts site surveys had previously warned of dangers at the site, Chinese news outlets said. No deaths have been reported, though few people trapped by the slide had been rescued alive by Monday afternoon.
Heavy rains in the region had saturated the soil, making it increasingly unstable and ultimately causing it to collapse. “Now that Shenzhen has this problem, you can’t rule out a lot of other places having such risks”, Mr Fan said.
Chen’s neighbor, Yi Jimin, said the disaster wasn’t an act of nature.
Cellphone camera video of the noontime Sunday disaster run by CCTV showed the massive wall of debris slamming into the buildings and sending up huge plumes of dust.
The mud came like “huge waves” as residents ran out of the way, Xinhua quoted a villager as saying.
“It must be a big accident, as I could hear the sound from so far away”, he said.
“It is the first time in China that we have seen a landslide on this scale”, said Liu Guonan of the China Academy of Railway Sciences.
The Ministry of Land and Resources has claimed to have provided additional personnel to assist with the containment of the debris and keep guard in case of a second collapse.
Among them were 14 factory buildings, 13 low-rise buildings, three dormitories, two office buildings and a canteen. Since then, industries such as biotechnology have moved to the area, but Sunday’s disaster demonstrated that Shenzhen still suffers from unregulated development like many other parts of the country. More than 1,500 people, including firemen, police and health workers, are involved in the rescue operations.
President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have called for all-out rescue efforts. A natural gas pipeline owned by PetroChina, China’s top oil and gas producer, exploded as the landslide swept through the area, causing a 400-meter-long rupture, according to Xinhua. By today, the fire was extinguished and a temporary section of pipe was being laid. Shenzhen is one of China’s fastest-growing cities, transforming from tiny fishing village to a prominent manufacturing hub over just three decades.