Rescuers have pulled out the first body from the Shenzhen landslide in China, as signs emerge that several survivors are trapped alive in the rubble.
State news agency Xinhua said the body was dug out early on Tuesday. The massive landslide engulfed 33 buildings in an industrial district on Sunday.
Seven people have been rescued while local media report 81 missing, quoting local officials.
The landslide happened when a huge man-made mound of earth collapsed.
It was made up of earth and construction debris, piled up against a local hill, which became unstable after heavy rains.
On Tuesday, Xinhua said the body was found around 06:00 local time (22:00 GMT Monday), but did not give further details on the person’s identity. It is the first reported death from the disaster.
Other local media outlets reported that rescuers had detected signs of life in various places, and have opened six main dig sites.
Sina News reported on Monday night that workers were attempting to rescue a group of nine survivors trapped in a dormitory whose facade was blocked by rubble. One of the survivors had phoned emergency services alerting them to their location.
China’s grim history of industrial accidents
About 900 people were evacuated on Sunday as waves of soil and debris rolled across the district and sparked an explosion at a natural gas pipeline.
The landslide eventually blanketed a vast area of 380,000 sq m (455,000 sq yards) – the equivalent of about 50 football fields. Some areas were covered with up to 10m (32ft) of mud.
On Monday, the number of missing people was cut from 91 to 85 without explanation.
The Ministry of Land and Resources said a mountain of earth and construction waste had been piled up against the local hill during the past two years.
“The pile was too big, the pile was too steep, leading to instability and collapse,” the ministry said.
Local resident Yi Jimin agreed the disaster was not an act of nature.
“Heavy rains and a collapse of a mountain are natural disasters, but this wasn’t a natural disaster, this was man-made,” he said.
Thousands of people, aided by diggers and dogs, have been involved in rescue efforts.
This is China’s fourth major disaster in a year, beginning with a deadly stampede in Shanghai on New Year’s Eve, and followed by a cruise ship capsize on the Yangtze River, and massive explosions at a chemicals warehouse in Tianjin that killed more than 170 people.