9 people killed in avalanche in Tibet's far west

BEIJING: An avalanche in Tibet's far west has left nine people dead, along with scores of yaks and sheep, authorities and state media said Monday.

Those killed were all residents of the village of Dungru in Ngari prefecture, more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the Himalayan region's capital of Lhasa.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday's tragedy sent snow 8 metres (26 feet) deep crashing down onto nine herders, while also burying 110 yaks and more than 350 sheep. Xinhua said fissures have been seen in glaciers surrounding the region, sparking fears of further avalanches.

The prefectural government confirmed the deaths in a brief online statement, but gave no other details.

The area where the avalanche hit, in Tibet's remote northwest, is filled with farms and pastures at an average elevation of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet).

Rising global temperatures are blamed for speeding the melting of glaciers in Tibet, the source of numerous major Asian rivers, including China's Yellow and Yangtze, Myanmar's Irrawady and the Mekong, which ends in Vietnam.

China is already dealing with some of its most extreme summer weather in years, with at least 164 people killed and 26 left missing as a result of torrential rain, floods, landslides and hailstorms since June 30.