- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2010

BEIJING (AP) — A passenger train hit by landslides derailed Sunday in eastern China, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 70 others, state media reported.

The latest death toll jumped from initial reports of eight killed, as rescuers dug out more bodies from mangled and overturned train carriages, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The train, bound for the tourist destination of Guilin, derailed around 2 a.m. Sunday in a mountainous area near Fuzhou city in eastern Jiangxi province, China Central Television reported.

Heavy rains caused a landslide that buried the railroad tracks, and the train derailed when it crashed into the huge mounds of dirt and debris, CCTV said.

About 2,000 rescuers, including firefighters, police and soldiers, found 10 bodies and pulled out 53 people who were trapped inside the crushed carriages, Xinhua said. Rescuers had removed another 280 people by 9 a.m.

They also warned that landslides remain a threat.

Xinhua reporters at the scene described seeing the locomotive, along with eight of the 17 train carriages, derailed and overturned in the mountainous area. Rescuers used heavy cutting equipment to make their way into the overturned train cars.

Footage from CCTV showed cranes and heavy machinery removing the twisted train carriages off the tracks. Workers also moved 10,460 cubic yards of mud and rocks to clear the tracks, which scheduled to reopen early Monday.

An investigation is under way, with Jiangxi Governor Wu Xinxiong arriving on the scene to oversee rescue operations. President Hu Jintao urged railway authorities to reopen the lines as soon as possible.

Heavy rainstorms have pounded the area in recent days, and local reservoirs have been forced to release fast-rising waters. Low-lying farms and residential areas have been flooded, Xinhua said.

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