Copters drop relief to isolated areas in landslide-hit Yunnan, China

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KUNMING, Nov 06, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Rescue operations in the landslide-hit province of Yunnan in southwest China saw a breakthrough as helicopters began to airdrop relief materials to isolated areas on Thursday.

Three military helicopters started to drop tents, quilts, food, bottled water and medicine to mountainous villages in the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, one of the worst-hit areas in the rain-triggered disasters that are known to have killed 40 people so far.

Some villages were completely isolated after roads were cut off by the landslides and mud-flows over the past 10 days, said Fa Yubin, deputy head of the Chuxiong prefectural government.

"The airlift has made great progress for our relief work and people in the villages now also feel greatly relieved," said Fa.

Fa said the copters were from the Chengdu Military Command of neighboring Sichuan Province and the first batch of 30 tonnes of relief materials would be delivered to stranded villagers in two or three days.

Good news also came from the provincial observatory, which said the rain was subsiding. It forecast clear skies from Friday in most parts of Yunnan.

However, the observatory also issued heavy rain warnings for the southern and central part of the province.

The geological disasters that followed almost 10 days of rain also left 43 others missing, 10 injured and 60,800 evacuated in Yunnan, with about 1.27 million people in nine cities and prefectures affected, according to a report by the provincial civil affairs department.