A rescue team has been working round the clock to clear the site of a cave-in on a sidewalk in Dazhou, Sichuan province, that buried four passers-by on Sunday.
At around 2.30 pm, the pavement in front of the Dazhou Jimin Hospital suddenly collapsed. Video clips showed four people falling into the hole. Two were pulled out but died later and the two others were still missing by press time on Monday.
Liu Yong, deputy chief of the Dachuan district branch of Dazhou's police bureau, said police realized four people had fallen into the hole after they checked the video clips and talked to witnesses.
The hole left by the cave-in was about three meters wide and two meters deep and connected to an underground cement culvert, said Gao Mingyue, an official with a firefighting team under the command of the police bureau.
At about 10 minutes after midnight on Monday, a woman trapped by the cave-in was found after firefighters used excavators to reach a site 6.5 meters deep.
Her backpack, found with her, contained her identification card and a bullet train ticket for a trip from Dazhou to Chengdu, the provincial capital, rescuers said.
The woman died on the way to the hospital. Rescue workers did not disclose her identity.
At 9.36 am on Monday, a man trapped in the cave-in was found. But he died in hospital, the Dachuan district information office said.
As of press time, rescue workers had used excavators to reach a site about 10 meters deep to search for the last two people, believed to be a grandfather and his grandson or a father and his son, judging from the video clips.
Gao said there was a chance of survival if they had fallen into the underground cement culvert that was four meters high and three meters wide. But if they were not in the culvert, their chance of survival would be slim, he said.
Rescue workers used a life detector at the site of the cave-in, but no signs of life had been found, he added.
The road leading to the site of the cave-in has been closed to traffic and onlookers have been persuaded to leave. Residents of nearby buildings have been evacuated because of fears the hole could widen.