SHENZHEN, China—Officials highlighted their handling of the search for 76 missing people at a collapsed mountain of construction waste as questions mounted Dec. 22 about why leaders in southern China’s most prominent manufacturing city didn’t act months earlier to prevent the lanslide.
Rescuers also recovered a man’s body in the first confirmed death from a mudslide at the construction dump site in Shenzhen.
Still missing are 51 men and 25 women, Vice Mayor Liu Qingsheng told a televised news conference. He said the number had fallen as people initially unaccounted for had gradually turned up.
The Ministry of Land and Resources has said a steep man-made mountain of dirt, cement chunks and other construction waste had been piled up against a 100-meter (330-foot) -high hill over the past two years.
Heavy rains saturated the soil, making it heavy and unstable, and ultimately causing it to collapse with massive force in and around an industrial park.
State media reported that the New Guangming District government identified problems with the mountain of soil months earlier.
The Legal Evening News reported that a district government report in January found that the dump had received 1 million cubic meters of waste and warned of a “catastrophe.”
Under pressure from the media, officials allowed about 30 journalists, mostly from foreign outlets, approach an outlying edge of the disaster area. Flanked by police, reporters could observe military posts with computers and disease control stations set up for the rescue workers.
At the beginning of the news conference, Liu and other officials bowed to express their condolences for the victim that had been found.
No questions from reporters were allowed.