The death toll from the landslide in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan increased to 46 after two people who had gone missing were found dead, the official news agency Xinhua said Saturday.

The agency, citing local authorities, added that the landslide, the cause of which remains unknown, buried the homes of 16 families at the village of Gaopo in Zhenxiong municipality at around 8:20 a.m. Friday.

The landslide, which buried the 46 fatalities - 27 adults and 19 children - "poured hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of muddy earth and rocks on the village, buried all the homes in the area and created huge difficulties for rescuers, with the prevailing low temperatures making the situation even worse," the leader of one of the emergency management teams, Sun Anfa, was cited by the official news agency as saying.

A spokesperson for the Zhenxiong government, Wu Liang, said that disasters like this are not unknown in the region, often the scene of earthquakes and torrential rains, though local residents said that overexploitation of the local coal mine could have caused the landslide, since this kind of industry erodes the ground and destabilizes hillsides.

Taking part in the rescue work were a thousand people, while local authorities rushed to the disaster area material needed by the survivors like blankets and tents, Xinhua said. EFE