China is to hold a national day of mourning Sunday for the victims of a huge landslide that killed more than 1,200 people in the country's northwest.

The day of mourning will see flags lowered to half-mast, and movies and other public entertainment will be suspended, the government announced Saturday.


Family members mourn the victims of landslides in northwestern China's Gansu province. ((Li Gang/Xinhua/Associated Press) )

Last week's disaster killed 1,239 people, according to the latest government figures.

The worst destruction took place in Zhouqu in Gansu province, which was inundated by muddy water and debris when heavy rains caused the Bailong River to overflow.

Soldiers are still struggling to remove debris from the river — a task made all the more urgent by forecasts of more rain in the next few days.

Clean drinking water has been impossible to find in some areas and there are reports of dysentery.

About 45,000 people fled their homes in the region and thousands were living in temporary shelters. Authorities said 505 people are still missing.

Farther south, in Sichuan province, 38 people were missing after heavy rains triggered landslides in Wenchuan county, the official Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.