Death toll rises to 26 in central China building collapse

Associated Press

Beijing – The death toll has risen to 26 in the collapse of a building in central China. The official Xinhua News Agency says that 10 people had also been rescued as of Tuesday night. Rescuers have been searching through the rubble since the building in the city of Changsha collapsed last Friday.

Rescuers pulled an unidentified woman alive from the rubble, the 10th survivor of the disaster. She was rescued shortly after midnight on Thursday, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-story building suddenly caved in on April 29, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, medical workers evacuate the 10th survivor pulled alive after being trapped 132 hours from the debris of a self-built residential structure that collapsed in Changsha in central China's Hunan Province on Thursday May 5, 2022.

The woman was conscious and advised rescuers on how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua said. Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.

All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital. Intermittent rain showers in recent days may have increased their chances of survival without food or water.

This photo released by Xinhua News Agency, shows the site of a collapsed self-constructed residential building in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province on April 29, 2022.

In an account of Monday’s rescue of the eighth survivor pulled out, state media said rescuers faced an unstable pile of rubble that they had to work around rather than demolish. Prior to the rescue, they were able to feed in video equipment to communicate with the girl and establish that one of her legs was trapped.

Before retreating to draw up a strategy, they fed in saline solution for her to drink, to which she responded, “Don’t worry big brother, I know you’ll be back for me right away,” the reports said.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, rescue workers work from a crane over the collapsed site of a self-constructed residential building in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province, April 30, 2022.

No other details about the girl or her condition were given.

At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building,” including its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.

Also held were three people in charge of design and construction and five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.

An increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to call last month for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

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. China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.