A nine-story residential building housing 35 families in the southern province of Guizhou in southwest China collapsed on May 20, trapping several people in the debris, with at least 16 residents still missing, according to city government officials.

Around 11:30 a.m., the apartment block, which housed 114 people, collapsed following a landslide caused by heavy rains at Guiyang City, Guizhou's capital, leaving a heap of bricks, steel and other rubble. By early evening, the city government had confirmed 98 residents were safe but they are still searching for at least 16 people, most probably trapped under the wreckage, as they traced 15 smartphone signals to the site of the collapsed building.

A resident of the building, who only gave his last name, Zhang, said he woke up from loud noises and was about to run out of the structure but debris fell on him. Rescuers were able to free him from the rubble. Another tenant said her daughter-in-law was among the missing. "She lived on the ninth floor," she said to Xinhua. "I called, but could not reach her."

Heavy rainfall steered the collapse of the building, but officials have evacuated the people in the surrounding area, according the government's website. Officials have deployed sniffer dogs and organized more than 100 rescuers at the scene. Rescuers in orange suits, however, did not locate any casualties by mid-afternoon after combing the concrete wreckage of the building.

Landslides are common in southern China, often triggered by earthquakes or heavy rains.

A landslide is the movement of huge soil lumps along with their components such as rocks, soil and trees. Landslides normally happen on top of mountains, in the basins, in elevated areas or sides of slopes and on valleys. The existence of water is not a requirement for a landslide to occur.

Landslides are more likely to happen during or after earthquakes or volcano eruptions. There is also a great chance of landslide if land would be saturated with water from heavy rains or the thawing of ice and snow, and leakage from reservoirs, or irrigation canals. When there is substantial removal of supporting strata or sub-layers of rocks, by natural processes or human activities, such as mining and tunnel digging, landslides may occur as well especially for steep mountains with manmade slopes to create roads in mountainous regions.

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