China mounted a major rescue effort Saturday for 118 people still missing after a landslide caused by torrential rain destroyed a mountain village in the southwestern province of Sichuan, state media reported.

Just 15 bodies had been recovered.

The landslide hit the village of Xinmo in Maoxian county shortly after 5am local time, burying 62 houses, according to the Sichuan provincial government, state media said.

Three survivors - a couple and their month-old baby - were rescued and taken to the hospital.


Qiao Dashuai said they had survived only because his infant son had woken him up. "It was after 5am and my son was crying, so I got up to change his [nappy]," he told China Central Television. "Then I heard a loud noise from the back. I thought it was the wind, so I went to close the door, but air and water came in, and rocks landed in the living room."

Qiao said he and his wife had grabbed their son and ran out of the house.

The rest of the village was obliterated, and hopes of finding anyone else alive appeared slim.

"When I got to Xinmo village around 6am, there was only one house in the entire village that was still visible," local official Li Yuanjun told the Sichuan Daily newspaper. "Everything else was buried by rocks and mud."

Zhang Liancheng, who lives in a nearby village, said the landslide buried eight members of his family. "It was raining, and the house was shaking," he told the local newspaper Huaxi Metropolis Daily. "It was very foggy, and I could only see something like a fire pushing toward Xinmo village."

Local police official Chen Tiebo told CCTV more people were in the village than usual because students were home for the summer holiday. About 140 tourists were evacuated from nearby villages, website reported.

Maoxian county is largely inhabited by members of the small Qiang ethnic group, known for building watchtowers and rope bridges in their mountainous lands.

"The whole village is buried, buried," a man is heard saying on a video posted on the website of Sichuan Daily, as his camera pans across earth and rocks at the scene.