A landslide in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province on Monday left at least two people dead and another 45 people buried, according to Chinese state media, as a cold wave blanketed much of the country.

State media said that more than 500 people had been evacuated. Aerial footage of the disaster site from the state broadcaster, China Central Television, showed a dark, gaping furrow gouged out of a snowy mountainside, which had carved through wide swaths of terraced fields and into a cluster of low houses.

The landslide occurred just before 6 a.m. on Monday, hitting two small villages in the northernmost part of the province, near the borders with Sichuan and Guizhou Provinces. The villages, Hexing and Heping, are sparsely populated, in a mountainous area that was once one of the poorest parts of China.

Hundreds of workers were climbing over snow-dusted rubble to rescue the missing residents, who came from at least 18 different households, state media reported. The temperature at the landslide site was below freezing on Monday morning, and snow was continuing to fall.

Temperatures had plunged across much of China over the weekend, with blizzards expected in a large swath of southeastern China on Monday, according to China’s National Meteorological Center. Some trains traveling across the region were canceled due to the weather.

The cause of the landslide in Yunnan, and whether it was related to the cold snap, were not immediately clear. The climate in that part of Yunnan is typically subtropical, with an average temperature in January of about 36 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the national meteorological authorities.

Joy Dong contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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