Dozens trapped in China building collapse

Rescue workers work on the collapse site of a self-built residential building in Changsha, Hunan province, China on April 29, 2022.

Photo by Yang Huafeng/China News Service via Getty

  • Rescuers are trying to free dozens of people trapped after a building collapsed in central China.
  • The building collapsed Friday afternoon.
  • 23 people were trapped, while 39 were unreachable.

Dozens of people were trapped under a building that collapsed in central China, officials said Saturday, as rescuers clawed through the rubble and used circular saws to pull several survivors free.

The building, which housed a hotel, apartments and cinema, collapsed Friday afternoon in Changsha city, Hunan province.

At least 23 people were detained late Saturday, while 39 others were unreachable after the incident, the mayor of Changsha told reporters.

“The situation of the missing persons is under further assessment,” Mayor Zheng Jianxin said as rescuers in orange safety helmets stormed the scene.

No casualties have been reported so far and city authorities said five people were rescued from the collapsed structure overnight.

Officials also confirmed the building was eight stories high and corrected previous reports that it was six.

State media showed firefighters cutting through a swamp of metal and concrete slabs, while rescuers in the rubble tower yelled to communicate with survivors.

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Some of the injured were taken on stretchers through a narrow alley, while sniffer dogs searched the area for further signs of life.

There was no direct cause for the disaster given by the authorities, although speculation has focused on possible overloading on the property.

“Tenants had made structural changes to the property to varying degrees,” CCTV said, adding that the reason for the collapse is under investigation.

Search ‘at all costs’

President Xi Jinping has called for a search for victims “at all costs,” state media reported, adding that he had ordered a thorough investigation into the cause of the collapse.

A top Communist Party official was sent to the scene earlier – an indication of the seriousness of the disaster.

State Councilor Wang Yong – appointed by the central government – was sent to lead a team to “lead rescue and relief work,” an official statement said on Saturday.

Building collapses are not uncommon in China, due to weak safety standards and corruption among officials charged with enforcing building quality standards.

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In January, an explosion caused by a suspected gas leak brought down a building in Chongqing city, killing more than a dozen people.

Twenty-five people were also killed in June 2021 when a gas explosion hit a residential complex in the city of Shiyan.

That same month, 18 people were killed and more were injured when a fire broke out at a martial arts school, with state media reporting that all the victims were boarding school students.

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