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Key SW China Highway Reopened a Week After Landslides

A key highway in southwest China's Yunnan Province that was closed for almost a week by landslides reopened late on Saturday, local officials said.

The 225-km Mount Ailao Highway was cut off after heavy rain triggered landslides and mud-rock flows, which destroyed or blocked the road at hundreds of sites.

The reopening of the road means relief materials and personnel can now be trucked into hard-hit Chuxiong City in the Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Chuxiong, said a prefectural spokesman.

Ten days of torrential rain late last month led to the landslides on November 2, leaving 40 people dead, 43 missing and forcing the evacuation of 60,800 others. Some 1.27 million people in nine cities and prefectures were affected, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

In Chuxiong alone, the death toll was 25 as of 9:00 PM on Thursday, with 43 more missing and 20 injured. The prefecture said 648,100 people were affected and 32,100 were evacuated.

Ailao Highway, a key link to Shuangbai and Nanhua counties and Chuxiong City, partially collapsed and had 126 sections swept away, with blockages at 360 other sites, said the spokesman.

Some villages in Chuxiong were completely cut off, said Fa Yubin, deputy head of the Chuxiong prefectural government, last Thursday. The military initially used helicopters to airdrop relief materials.

(Xinhua News Agency November 10, 2008)

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