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Death toll rises to 25 after landslide buries dozens in southwest China in freezing winter temperatures

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The death toll from a landslide in southwestern China has reached 25 as rescuers continue to comb mud, snow and rubble in search of survivors.

There are 19 people still unaccounted for, reported state broadcaster CCTV on Tuesday.

Authorities have mobilized more than 1,000 rescue workers and 45 rescue dogs for the search mission following the landslide, which hit the mountain village of Liangshui, in Yunnan province, shortly before dawn Monday, when most residents were asleep.

A total of 18 homes were buried, and more than 500 people evacuated, CCTV reported.

Drone footage of the disaster site carried by local state media showed a broad slope of dark mud unleashed onto mountain terraces and village roofs covered in snow.

Dozens of fire engines and pieces of earth-moving equipment were also deployed as part of rescue efforts, according to CCTV.

Footage aired on CCTV showed firefighters in orange jumpsuits climbing through the gray rubble of destroyed homes to search for survivors, against the backdrop of steep mountain ridges powdered with snow.

One man was pulled from the rubble shortly after 11 a.m. local time Monday, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The area was hit by heavy snow on Sunday night, and although the snowfall has lightened since, the temperature still lingered below freezing Monday, CCTV said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged local officials to quickly ramp up rescue efforts in a statement published by CCTV.

Xi also called on officials across China to be on high alert to avoid any major accidents as Chinese New Year celebrations approach, according to CCTV.

The remote mountains of Yunnan are prone to landslides, due to steep slopes and unstable soil.

Much of southern China, including Yunnan, is in the middle of a cold snap, with temperatures dropping near or below freezing, according to China’s Meteorological Administration.

This story has been updated with further developments.

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