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Death toll climbs to five in central China building collapse

The commercial building in Changsha city, Hunan province – which housed apartments, a hotel and a cinema – caved in on Friday, sparking a massive response with hundreds of emergency workers.

AFP
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People walk along a pedestrian street surrounded by small shops in the city of Changsha, China's Hunan province, on Sep 7, 2020. Photo: AFP
People walk along a pedestrian street surrounded by small shops in the city of Changsha, China's Hunan province, on Sep 7, 2020. Photo: AFP

Authorities have raised the death toll to five in a building collapse in central China that has left dozens missing, state media reported early Thursday.

The commercial building in Changsha city, Hunan province – which housed apartments, a hotel and a cinema – caved in on Friday, sparking a massive response with hundreds of emergency workers.

The flattened structure, which has left a gaping hole in a dense Changsha streetscape, created a mess of debris and crumbled concrete beams.

The official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday that the death toll now stands at five, up from two previously. In addition, 10 people have been pulled from the rubble alive.

The tenth survivor was found conscious at approximately 12am, Xinhua said.

There are 23 people believed to be trapped in the building, and no contact has been established with an additional 39 other missing individuals, according to state media.

Rescuers have been able to find live victims with the help of sniffer dogs, life detectors and drones, as well as thanks to shouting and knocking, the outlet said.

Authorities have alleged that surveyors falsified a safety audit of the building, which Xinhua classified as “a self-built” structure.

President Xi Jinping earlier called for a search “at all cost” and ordered a thorough investigation into the cause of the collapse, state media reported.

Building collapses are not uncommon in China due to weak safety and construction standards, as well as corruption among officials tasked with enforcement.

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