China Building Collapses Killing At Least 2
Crews are continuing to sift through debris after the collapse of a commercial building in Changsha, the capital of central China’s Hunan Province, just south of Beijing. As of Tuesday afternoon, two people are confirmed dead, nine have been successfully rescued and dozens are still missing.
The eight-story building was reported to cave in at 12:24 p.m. last Friday (April 29)—sparking a huge response from hundreds of emergency workers. In addition to serving as a residential structure, the building also featured a cinema, hotel, café and shops.
Following the collapse, in a news briefing Changsha Mayor Zheng Jianxin pledged to “seize the golden 72 hours for rescue and try our best to search for the trapped people.” As a part of the city’s efforts, more than 700 first responders were dispatched to the scene.
In media issued by the state, firefighters could be seen with a digger and cutting through a morass of metal and sheets of concrete. As these efforts took place, rescuers shouted into the debris to communicate with any survivors and removed pieces of brick by hand.
9 have been #arrested for their roles in the recent #collapse of a self-built residential #building in #Changsha, capital of central #China's #Hunan Province, authorities said on Tuesday. https://t.co/mFHmVy5DvF— People's Daily app (@PeoplesDailyapp) May 4, 2022
In taking additional precautions, China’s Minister of Emergency Management Huang Ming urged officials to “thoroughly eliminate all kinds of hidden safety risks” in a meeting on Saturday. President Xi Jinping also called for a search “at all cost” and ordered an investigation into the collapse.
By Sunday, seven people had been pulled out alive from the rubble. According to a video published by the People's Daily newspaper, emergency response expert Liang Buge said there was no way to remove the two confirmed fatalities, as they were “pinned down by heavy objects.”
At the time, authorities reported that another 16 other people were believed to remain trapped.
Monday morning into Tuesday afternoon, a man and woman were successfully rescued from the flattened structure. NPR reported that the woman, who had been buried for 88 hours, alerted workers using life detection equipment to her presence by knocking on objects.
According to local fire officials, much of the rescue efforts have been hampered by limited space for heavy machinery to lift away debris. Crews also fear that adjacent buildings damaged by the incident could eventually collapse.
As of yesterday (May 4), it is believed that 14 people remain trapped within the rubble and that 39 are still missing.
Officials added that weak safety and construction standards, along with government corruption, have led to several building collapses in China. The cause of this recent disaster in Changsha has not been confirmed by authorities.
Arrests, Pending Investigation
Since the incident occurred, Chinese police have detained 11 people, including the building's owner and a team of safety inspectors, who are believed to be in connection with the collapse. Changsha police said on Sunday that the building’s owner and three others responsible for its design and construction were arrested on suspicion of “major responsibility for an accident.”
Two others have been suspected of engaging in "illegal alteration" of the building, according to Changsha authorities. Detainees also include members of a private building inspection firm, who have been accused of providing “a false safety report after conducting a building safety audit of the hotel.”
In total, nine suspects have been arrested by prosecutors.
According to China Daily, the structure was originally built as a six-story building in 2012. Howeverm six years later in 2018, two stories were added. While tenants reportedly made structural changes to the building, a further investigation is needed to determine the precise cause of the collapse.
Following an increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years, President Xi Jinping said Saturday that it was necessary to check such structures for any hidden dangers and fix them to prevent major accidents.
Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for such disasters.