Another body found, Vietnam landslide's death toll reaches 17

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Ly Thi Sinh (C), wife of Hang A Sung, one of the 20 victims who were buried in a landslide in the northern province of Yen Bai on Friday

Rescuers in the northern province of Yen Bai have recovered another victim of a landslide that buried 20 people on Friday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 17, according to local authorities.

One person remains missing, while the condition of two others hospitalized at Nghia Lo General Hospital have stabilized, said Ta Van Long, vice chairman of the Yen Bai's People's Committee, who is in charge of the rescue mission.

He said the latest body was found late Saturday, adding that many of the recovered bodies were not complete.

The rescue mission currently faces significant difficulties due to the ongoing rain, fog and mud on the road which leads to the site, according to Long.

To make matters worse, the site is still vulnerable to another landslide as many cracks have appeared there, he stressed.

Initial information was that the accident happened when local people were scrounging for mineral fragments near a mine managed by Thinh Dat Ltd. Co., in La Pan Tan Commune, Mu Cang Chai District.

Asked if local authorities were aware of the fact that many people often illegally collected mineral fragments at the site, Long said they were not. He said the reason for that is because site is located far from the district's center and is difficult to access due to rough terrain.

Several locals told Thanh Nien that the commune was considered one of the district's most well-off, thanks to extra income they earned by selling mineral fragments.

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They said a kilogram of ore fetches between VND40,000-50,000 (US$1.9-2.4), adding that traders who bought the ore often sold it to China.

Following the accident, Long announced on Sunday that local authorities had decided to cancel the Mu Cang Chai Festival, originally scheduled for September 14-20.

The festival, which is centered around the district's famous terrace fields, is an annual tourism, sport and culture event.

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