Rescuers transport a survivor who was removed from the debris of an eight-story building that collapsed in Changsha, Hunan province on May 1, 2022. (GUO LILIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY)
President Xi Jinping has ordered search and rescue efforts at all costs after a self-constructed, partly residential building collapsed in Hunan province.
Xi made the instruction following the eight-story building's collapse, which occurred at 12:24 pm on Friday in Wangcheng district in the provincial capital, Changsha.
By Sunday evening, seven survivors had been pulled from the debris and hospitalized, and the search was underway for 16 other people who were believed to be trapped inside, according to rescuers.
By Sunday evening, seven survivors had been pulled from the debris and hospitalized, and the search was underway for 16 other people who were believed to be trapped inside, according to rescuers
The rescuers also said efforts were being made to contact 39 people who had been around the building when it toppled.
About 700 people were involved in the search and rescue efforts.
Local police announced on Sunday that they had detained nine people in connection with the collapse of the building, which housed catering and hotel businesses as well as several apartments.
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Among those detained are the owner of the building, people in charge of its construction, and five staff workers of a local engineering inspection company who were detained on suspicion of producing fake safety appraisal documents for the hotel on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the building, police said.
Preliminary investigations found that tenants had made structural changes to the premises. In addition, upon completion of construction in 2012, the building had only six stories. Two more stories were added in 2018.
The exact cause of the collapse was still under investigation, local government officials said at a news conference on Saturday.
Search and rescue teams were working nonstop to find those trapped inside while reinforcing adjacent buildings, which have become unsafe due to the damage sustained in the collapse.
Zhang Zheng, deputy director of the Changsha Fire and Rescue Brigade, said on Sunday that the team was getting close to some of the people who were trapped inside.
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"We have been using audio and video life sign detectors to find out their exact location and the condition that they are in so we can draw up a plan to get them out. We know that dust created by search and rescue activities has fallen on the hair of some of the trapped people."
In a videoconference on Saturday morning, Huang Ming, minister of emergency management, called for more careful inspection of work safety to prevent further accidents.
"Related departments should crack down on illegal and irregular building activities such as unauthorized construction and unauthorized alteration of the main structure, to prevent collapses and other similar accidents," Huang said.
On Saturday, State Councilor Wang Yong led a team to Changsha to guide the rescue and emergency response.