THE death toll from a landslide that swept through a village in the mountains of southern China has risen to at least 44.

The landslide smothered 14 homes in Zhaojiagou village in Yunnan province, burying 46 people. Two are still missing.

Photos on the website of the official newspaper the Yunnan Daily showed rescue crews in orange jumpsuits using diggers to sift through massive piles of mud and earth. Reports did not say what triggered the landslide, but they occur periodically in a region prone to earthquakes and heavy rains. In October a landslide buried a primary school, killing 19.