China says landslide caused by safety violations, vows to punish 'seriously'

Story highlights

  • As many as 73 people are still missing
  • 16 people have been hospitalized

(CNN)A mountain of construction debris that swallowed cars and buildings in China was a result of safety violations -- not a natural disaster, state media said.

Rescue crews have pulled out four bodies after the landslide in Shenzhen on Sunday.
    As many as 73 people are still missing, according to CNN's calculations based on Chinese media.
    State investigators say they have determined the landslide was caused by unsafe conditions, according to the Xinhua news agency.
    "Those responsible for the incident will be seriously punished in accordance with laws and regulations," a state investigation team said Friday.
    Shenzhen emergency officials said at least 16 people remain hospitalized -- three in serious condition.

    Rescue effort involves thousands

    A massive rescue effort involving 4,000 people has been underway since the landslide, with hopes dimming daily.
    Excavators have been working to clear the rubble, dwarfed by the sheer scale of the landslide. It covered 380,000 square meters (94 acres) -- or around 60 football fields.
    Densely packed with few air pockets, the mud and debris were piled four stories tall in some places. In addition to toppled buildings, the landslide also ruptured a gas pipeline, complicating clearance efforts.
    Authorities said it's hard to determine the exact number of missing because many residents and workers are migrants from inland provinces. They are often unregistered, or their relatives are far away and can't be contacted quickly.

    Safety concerns

    The company in charge of the waste dump's construction purportedly raised safety concerns in a January report filed with the municipal government, according to the state-run Legal Evening News. In the report, it said new waste dumps are "urgently" needed.
    The landslide buried 33 buildings, state media reported.