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4 geological workers found dead
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4 geological workers found dead

The bodies of four geological survey workers who went missing in Yunnan province's Ailao Mountains were found on Sunday and Monday.

The Zhenyuan county government said on Monday that three were found on Sunday night and the other on Monday morning.

At around 7:30 pm on Nov 15, the county government received a report that four staff members of the China Geological Survey's Kunming Natural Resources Comprehensive Survey Center had lost contact with the center after entering the mountains on Nov 13.

According to their schedule, they should have returned from the mountains before noon on Nov 14.

"After receiving the report, the county government immediately set up a rescue headquarters, dispatching eight teams with rescue equipment including vehicles, satellite phones, drones, helicopters and sniffer dogs," said Zhang Zhaohui, deputy head of the county and deputy director of the headquarters, adding that rescue workers spent over 16 hours every day in the mountains.

Over 8,000 rescuers from the cities of Pu'er and Yuxi and the Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture joined the search, the provincial government said.

The authorities also invited locals familiar with the complicated mountain environment to participate in the rescue effort.

On Saturday, rescue workers found human excrement and a raincoat belonging to one of the survey workers near the Baishui River.

A team from Pu'er's forest fire brigade was then dispatched early on Sunday to enhance the search.

The rescue headquarters also dispatched helicopters to drop supplies for the rescuers, reducing the need for them to return to base.

"The four workers entered the mountains to carry out a forest resources survey," Wang Hongdong, director of the Ailao Mountains National Nature Reserve's Zhenyuan bureau, told China Central Television on Friday. "They carried compasses, engineering shovels and some other tools, as well as enough food for about one and a half days."

Wang added that the four missing workers, aged from 25 to 32, had military experience.

"Every night after the rescue work, we discussed the search and rescue plan for the next day based on the information the rescuers got," he said. "After several days of searching, rescue workers found some signs of their movement and some scraps of food.

"We preliminarily judged the cause of their going missing as misjudging their location."

Continuous rain in the reserve from Nov 14 to 16 brought low temperatures and thick fog, and the low visibility might have caused the misjudgment, Wang said.

The location where they lost contact has some of the most complicated geographical conditions in the Ailao Mountains. Even forest rangers can get lost for a short time in areas they seldom visit.

The China Geological Survey expressed its condolences to the families of the four workers.

China DailyShen Yi

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