AP
Villagers burn offerings to their relatives who were killed after a mudslide swept through the town of Zhouqu in Gannan prefecture in northwestern China's Gansu province on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. Overnight thunderstorms brought new misery to a remote area of northwestern China on Thursday as the death toll from weekend flooding and massive landslides rose to 1,117. The rains triggered new mudslides, leaving five more missing, and another swollen river threatened to overflow. (AP Photo)**CHINA OUT**
By
updated 8/13/2010 12:22:58 AM ET 2010-08-13T04:22:58

A relentless downpour threatened to trigger more landslides Friday and made rescue work nearly impossible in the remote northwestern China region where hundreds died in massive slides triggered by weekend flooding.

Heavy rains were forecast for flood-ravaged Gansu province in the coming days — up to 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) was expected Friday — and the National Weather Center said the threat of more landslides along the Bailong River was "relatively large."

Tents set up as emergency shelters were flooded, and traumatized victims said the ongoing storms were a frightening reminder of the deluge that brought on last Sunday's disaster in which three villages in Gansu's Zhouqu district were swallowed in waves of mud and rubble-strewn water. Hundreds of homes were completely buried, and the death toll was 1,144.

The overnight deluge triggered new mudslides late Thursday in Longnan city, close to Zhouqu, killing nine and leaving nine others missing, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing local authorities in Gansu province.

Meanwhile, mudslides also hit parts of southwest China's Sichuan province killing five people and leaving 500 people trapped, Xinhua said Friday. The brief report did not say whether the hundreds trapped in Sichuan were in danger.

Xinhua said at least 600 people remain missing in Zhouqu, with the last reported rescues made Wednesday.

Residents said they could hear cries for help coming from collapsed buildings overnight Thursday and some 40 soldiers were sent to search, army officer Zhang Guiquan told Xinhua.

"We will seize every chance to find survivors, but it is also important to ensure the safety of rescuers," he said.

Government officials say the scale of the disaster has made counting the dead all the more difficult, noting whole households have died. Bodies were wrapped in blankets and tied to sticks or placed on planks and left on the debris-strewn streets for pickup.

Crews had been using hand tools to pull out survivors but roads reopened Wednesday, allowing in heavy earth-moving equipment and supplies.

Clean drinking water was a primary concern, with most local sources knocked out or too polluted to use. State media reported numerous cases of dysentery, but there were no reports of an epidemic outbreak.

At least 45,000 people have evacuated their homes, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs reported the delivery of 30,000 tents to the area, with thousands more on the way. Zhouqu has a population of 134,000, but it wasn't clear how many needed emergency shelter.

The Gansu provincial government announced subsidies for families whose homes were destroyed and promised to help rebuild all houses by next June.

Flooding in China has killed more than 2,000 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: More landslides feared in China

Photos: Flooding and mudslides devastate China

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  1. People make their way through debris left by a mudslide in Mianzhu, Sichuan province on Monday, Aug. 16. Heavy rains in western China have killed dozens more adding to the more than 1,500 people who have died in flooding and landslides nationwide so far this year. (China Daily / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Floods run through a newly built residential area in Yingxiu town of Wenchuan county, in southwest Sichuan province on Sunday, Aug.15. Floods destroyed prefabricated buildings used as hospital facilities in Wenchuan county, the center of 2008's magnitude 7.9 earthquake. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Soldiers and rescuers evacuates villagers from the mudslide-hit Qingping town in Hanwang, Sichuan province on Saturday, Aug. 14. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Rescuers try to save a resident who was stranded as flooding and landslides hit on Aug.14 in Yingxiu county, Sichuan province. (Liu Xingzhe / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A mudslide surrounds buildings in Qingping township in Mianzhu city, in southwest China's Sichuan Province on Friday, Aug. 13. New landslides killed 24 people and left more missing as downpours complicated rescue efforts. The region has been hit severe flooding and landslides that have left more than 1,100 people dead. (Zhang Rui / Xinhua via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Crowds gather as rescuers recover a body from the mud and debris in Zhouqu on Aug. 12, in northwest China's Gansu province. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Villager Wang Xidai carries a coffin that will be used for his niece, who was killed when a mudslide swept through the town of Zhouqu. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Residents collect wood and logs washed into the Bailong River by recent downpours. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Survivors build makeshift stretchers to transport the bodies of victims pulled from the debris in Zhouqu. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Chinese rescuers use boats to search for survivors in flood-hit Zhouqu on Aug. 11. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Rescuers recover money and other personal belongings of landslide victims in Zhouqu on Aug. 11. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Military personnel on clean-up operations work beside a demolished building in Zhouqu on Aug. 11. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A resident mourns her missing relatives in Zhouqu county on Aug. 11. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Soldiers spray disinfectant at the scene of a mudslide on Aug. 10 in Gansu province. (ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. People walk among disaster relief tents set up at the No.3 Middle School in Zhouqu county, northwest China's Gansu Province, on Aug. 10. (Wang He / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Rescuers use boats to bring people to a safer area on a flooded street in Zhouqu county, Gansu province, on Aug. 10. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Two rescue workers stand among the remains of a collapsed building after a mudslide swept through the town of Zhouqu on Aug. 10. (Ng Han Guan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Liuma Shengdai, 52, is transported by rescuers in Zhouqu County on Aug. 10. Shengdai was trapped for 60 hours following a landslide, news agency Xinhua reported. (Zhang Hongxiang / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Rescue workers carry wooden boards to create a passable route through soft mud in the town of Zhouqu on Aug. 10. (Ng Han Guan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Chinese soldiers and residents attempt to pry open the concrete walls of a building that collapsed after a mudslide swept into the town of Zhouqu on Aug. 10. (Ng Han Guan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Rescuers carry a victim out of the debris on Aug. 10. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A man mourns his missing relatives on Aug. 10 in Zhouqu County. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Rescuers blow up a blockade to release floodwaters two days after a deadly flood-triggered landslide in Zhouqu on Monday, Aug. 9. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Rescue workers search in the debris after a mudslide swept away a large part of the town of Zhouqu, Gannan prefecture, in northwestern China's Gansu province, Aug. 9. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A woman grieves for the victims in the mudslide-hit town of Zhouqu in Gannan prefecture, in northwestern China on Aug. 9. (Str / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A destroyed building in Zhouqu county in northwest China on Aug. 9. (Xiong Gang / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Chinese rescuers armed with little more than shovels and hoes on Aug. 9 search for survivors of a huge mudslide. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. In this photo taken Aug. 8, soldiers try to rescue a survivor buried under a mudslide in northwest China. (Zhang Yongjin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Rescuers search for survivors amid debris on Aug. 9. (China Daily via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. A man holds a family photo as he waits for information about his missing wife on Aug. 9. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. People carry a body out of the flooded areas in Zhouqu County on Aug. 9, as upstream from the disaster, demolition experts and geologists were working frantically to drain a lake that had built up behind a barrier of landslide blockage. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. A grieving woman is consoled by others in the devastated town of Zhouqu on Aug. 9. (Ng Han Guan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A resident surveys a destroyed building on Aug. 9. (Aly Song / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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