A highway collapse in China has toppled cars, killing at least 48 people and injuring dozens

The death toll from a highway collapse in southeastern China rose to 48 people on Thursday, as searches continued for the second day in a row in a mountainous and treacherous area.

A side of a four-lane highway in Meizhou city collapsed around 2 a.m. on Wednesday after a month of heavy rain in Guangdong province. 23 vehicles fell down a steep slope, and some caught fire when they caught fire. Construction cranes were used to recover the burned and mangled vehicles.

Three other people, who have not been identified, are awaiting DNA testing, Michio officials said. It was not immediately clear whether they had died, bringing the death toll to 51. Another 30 people sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Meizhou City Mayor Wang Hui said at a press conference this afternoon that the search is still continuing. He added that no foreigners were found among the victims.

In this photo published by Xinhua News Agency, an aerial photo shows rescuers working at the site of a collapsed section of road on the Meizhou-Dapu Expressway in Meizhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Xinhua News Agency via AP

Search work was hampered by rain and sliding ground and gravel on the slope. The disaster left a curved, earth-colored gash in the green forest landscape. Excavators dug a wider area on the slope.

“Because some vehicles caught fire, the difficulty of the rescue operation increased,” said Wen Yongding, Communist Party secretary of the Meizhou Emergency Management Office.

He added, “Most of the vehicles were buried in the soil during the collapse, and were covered by a large amount of soil.”

He added that prolonged heavy rainfall had saturated the soil in the area, “making it vulnerable to secondary disasters during the rescue operation.”

More than 56 centimeters (22 inches) of rain has fallen in the past four weeks in the county where the road collapsed, more than four times as much as last year. Some villages in Meizhu were flooded in early April, and the city has seen more rain in recent days.

Parts of Guangdong Province have witnessed record rains and floods over the past two weeks, as well as hail. A tornado killed five people in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, during rain and hail storms last weekend.

The highway section collapsed on the first day of the five-day Labor Day holiday, when many Chinese travel at home and abroad.

China Central Broadcasting Corporation (CCTV) quoted Chinese leader Xi Jinping as saying that all regions of China must improve monitoring and early warning measures and investigate any risks to ensure public safety and social stability.

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