A tailings dam in China has breached, burying nine houses and leaving 17 people missing.

The dam, used to keep back processed gold ore, collapsed in northwest Shaanxi province whilst it was being heightened – for the sixth time since 1993 – to increase its capacity.

More than 130 local residents have been evacuated and resettled elsewhere. Five people from a local village are reportedly in hospital.

The local government has taken steps to prevent the poisonous content in the gold ore tailings, including sodium cyanide, polluting the environment, according to Xinhua News Agency.