Chinese authorities ended the rescue mission and announced 53 people died in a building collapse in Hunan province.
“Search and rescue work at the scene of the building collapse has been completed. Those who were trapped and unable to move from the scene have all been found. 10 people were rescued and 53 people died,” the radio station said. China Central Television reported today. A day earlier, the number of people identified as dead was 26.
A 6-storey building, including a cinema, motel, cafe, shop and apartment complex in Trường Sa city, Hunan province, was flattened after the incident on April 29. Rescuers with the help of sniffer dogs, detectors and drones have been searching for survivors for the past six days.
Trường Sa Party Secretary Wu Guiying and city officials apologized for the accident at a press conference today, saying she was “deeply heartbroken” and sending condolences to the victims’ families.
“Authorities will fully cooperate with higher levels to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and provide a responsible explanation for the whole society,” Wu said.
Chinese media identified the collapsed building as a “self-built residential structure,” meaning that it was built by individuals or businesses without state funding. The owner of the building and 10 other people were arrested for allegedly ignoring building regulations or other violations. Authorities also believe that those responsible for assessing the safety of the building have faked the records.
Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier called for the search for victims “at all costs” and ordered a comprehensive investigation into the cause of the collapse.
Building collapses are not uncommon in China, due to poor safety standards and corruption at construction sites. Much of the infrastructure is deteriorating, like the gas pipelines.
In January, an explosion suspected of a gas leak collapsed a building in the city of Chongqing, killing more than a dozen people. Last June, a gas explosion also collapsed a residential building in Shiyan City, Hubei Province, killing 25 people.
Also in June 2021, 18 people were killed and many injured when a fire broke out at a martial arts school. According to Chinese media, all victims are boarding students.
Mr. Xi last month called for increased inspections to detect structural weaknesses, amid an increase in collapses of self-built homes.
Huyen Le (Theo AFP)