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17 Killed in China Building Collapse

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

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Four buildings in a city in eastern China collapsed early Monday (Oct. 10), killing at least 17, according to reports from the scene.

Wenzhou, in the province of Zhejiang, was the site of the collapse around 4:00 a.m. Monday, according to multiple reports. State media said as of Monday evening that 17 people had been confirmed dead, and six more, including a six-year-old girl, had been pulled from the rubble alive.

Search and rescue efforts were ongoing at that time, with military and other rescue workers moving rubble by hand to try to avoid harming any potential survivors.

Illegal Additions, Markted for Demolition

An official cause has not yet been determined, and is being investigated. China Daily reports that the houses, which were built in the 1970s, were self-built by residents, had additions built onto them vertically, and had been subject to demolition in recent years but were left partially standing. They were reportedly three to five stories tall.

Officials were unable to be sure how many people might be buried in the rubble, reports say, because the additions on the buildings were built illegally, and there was no record of how many people lived in them. A neighbor told Beijing News that the buildings were generally rented to migrant workers at low rates.

History of Collapses

There have been a number of high-profile building collapses in China in recent years. In April, a building collapsed in Shanghai amid what officials suspected was illegal construction work. In December 2015, at least 69 people were killed in a massive multi-building collapse triggered by a landslide at a construction waste dump in Shenzhen. And 17 fatalities were reported in a building collapse at a renovation site in Henan Province in October 2015.

Unsafe construction practices have been called into question in relation to several of the collapses.

"In China, in order to reduce costs and minimize delays, contractors cut corners,” an Al-Jazeera reporter noted. “In some cases, they use sea sand, which has salt in it, and salt causes corrosion."

The collapse occurred in the Lucheng industrial district of Wenzhou, on China’s east coast. Wenzhou is a city of just over 3 million people.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Asia Pacific; Construction; Contractors; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Latin America; North America; Residential Construction

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