KUNMING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The death toll after a landslide hit a mountainous region in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Friday has risen to 36 as more bodies have been retrieved.
Chinese leaders Xi Jinping, Wen Jiabao and Li Keqiang have ordered all-out efforts to rescue victims of the landslide in order to minimize casualties from the disaster.
Xi, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said efforts must be made to resettle affected residents, prevent secondary disasters and successfully complete relief work so as to ensure stability.
At that time, rescue works were ongoing among the debris in Gaopo Village, Zhenxiong County, located some 550 km northeast of Yunnan's capital city of Kunming, according to the publicity department.
The landslide hit the village around 8:20 a.m., burying the homes of 16 families, a local government official surnamed Wang told Xinhua.
About 40 people are believed to have been buried in the landslide, according to an initial investigation.
Two injured people have been sent to a nearby hospital, but their conditions have not been publicized.
"The landslide, which brought about several hundred-thousand cubic meters of watery mud to the village, buried all of the houses there and created great difficulties for rescue efforts amid low temperatures," said Sun Anfa, the leader of a local rescue team.
More than 1,000 rescuers have arrived on the scene to search for the missing people with five excavators and four front loader trucks. More rescue workers are rushing from nearby regions to assist in search and rescue efforts.
A work team led by provincial governor Li Jiheng is also on the way to the scene.
The provincial civil affairs department has allocated relief materials such as tents, quilts, food and water to the region, where the temperature has been as low as two degrees Celsius recently.
Zhenxiong County is adjacent to Yiliang County, where 19 people, including 18 primary school students, were killed in a landslide in October.
In September, a series of earthquakes -- with the strongest registering a magnitude of 5.7 -- struck the region, leaving at least 81 people dead in Yiliang.
A cold front will move toward the region in the coming week, bringing rain and snow to Zhenxiong County, according to the Yunnan provincial meteorological bureau.
Provincial and local meteorological authorities have initiated an emergency response mechanism for major natural disasters.