A massive landslide, caused by reckless dumping of construction debris rather than a natural disaster, swept through an industrial park in Shenzhen, which housed many plastics companies.
Mud, rock and debris buried dozens of factories and dormitory buildings when the landslide hit around noon on Dec. 20, local time. As of Monday night, 85 people are still missing and 16 are injured, according to latest reports from Chinese state media.
A survivor told the local press that companies in the industrial park are primarily small and mid-sized companies in the packaging and plastics businesses.
The Wall Street Journal quoted two sources from plastics companies in the industrial park. One person, whose small plastic processing business was reportedly buried, said the government is focusing on rescue work but neither explaining the cause nor discussing compensations. A plastics mold maker in the same industrial park reported that it was untouched by the landslide but nevertheless ordered to halt production as authorities sealed the area.
Nearly 3,000 firefighters, police and other personnel have participated in the ongoing rescue.
China's Ministry of Land Resources said in a statement that preliminary findings have identified the cause as coming from a construction debris dumpsite just south of the industrial park. Debris piled up and became unstable, it said.
Survivors told media heartrending stories of how their family members vanished just meters away from them.
Various media reports indicated that the local government had possessed prior knowledge of the safety hazard of the dumpsite, but the document on the local government site, referred to by earlier media coverage, is suspected to have since been deleted.