With torrential rains returning to the north west, hopes for the further recovery of survivors from the Zhouqu landslide are fading and fears of new landslides and outbreaks of disease from dirty water emerging. Experts in epidemic prevention have arrived in the area, Xinhua reports, and squads of soldiers in protective suits are already disinfecting areas of town (below) .
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Questions are also starting to be raised about the effects of the 2008 earthquake that shook the region on the underlying stability of the land, about the effects of logging that have denuded mountainsides, and of the dam and mining projects that are part of the economic development push in the west but which are said to have caused an increase in avalanches and landslides. The 1998 floods led to greater environmental protections, particularly in the Yangtze River floodplain. Will this years disasters do the same in the mountains of the west?