BEIJING (AP) - A landslide toppled an elementary school building in a mountainous area of southwestern China on Thursday, killing at least 16 students and leaving three other people missing, a state news agency said.
Eighteen students were buried at the Tiantou Primary School and a 19th victim was buried in a house, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local officials. Another person was seriously injured in the landslide, which occurred in an area ravaged by a deadly earthquake last month, it said.
About 2,000 local people, medics, police and military personnel were trying to rescue the victims, the Yiliang county government said on its website. Sixteen of the students were confirmed dead, Xinhua said.
The landslide hit the school and two farmhouses in Zhenhe village around 8 a.m., the county government said. More than 800 people living near a river blocked by the landslide were evacuated.
Rescuers rushed from the Yiliang county seat to Zhenhe three hours away to dig out the students, said Peng Hong, an official with the county foreign affairs office.
Peng said the cause of the landslide was not yet known, but Yiliang was struck by an earthquake last month that killed 81 people and devastated several villages. In addition, rain has lashed the region of mountains and sheer valleys.
Though Thursday was a holiday across China, students were in school to make up for days missed after the quake, Peng said.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)