At least 67 killed in Chinese power plant collapse

Rescue workers at the scene of the power plant accident yesterday. Industrial accidents are common in China, where enforcement of safety standards is often lax.
Rescue workers at the scene of the power plant accident yesterday. Industrial accidents are common in China, where enforcement of safety standards is often lax.PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • At least 67 people were killed when part of a power station under construction in China collapsed, state media reported, the latest industrial accident in a country with a dismal safety record.

A cooling tower platform plunged to the ground in the early hours of yesterday, trapping an unknown number of people beneath it, the official Xinhua news agency said.

State broadcaster CCTV put the toll at 67, with local reports saying that one person was still missing and two others injured.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have ordered an investigation, demanding that those responsible for the accident be held accountable, the central government said.

"Strengthen supervision and preventive measures, prevent such a major accident from happening again," Mr Li said in a statement on the government's website.

Pictures of the accident scene in Fengcheng in the central province of Jiangxi showed a grey mass of concrete slabs, steel girders and twisted metal in a heap on the ground inside a large round structure.

Hard-hatted rescue workers carried out bodies wrapped in sheeting from the site on stretchers. A total of 32 fire engines and 212 military personnel had been deployed to the scene, the Jiangxi provincial fire department said on a verified social media account.

The construction of two 1,000MW coal-fired power units at the Ganneng Fengcheng power station began last July and was expected to be completed by early 2018, the local Yichun city government said on a verified social media account last year.

The budget for the expansion was 7.67 billion yuan (S$1.6 billion), it added.

The main investor in a previous expansion project at the plant suspended trading in its shares on the Shenzhen stock exchange yesterday afternoon, stating that "significant events" that could not be disclosed might impact its share price. Its shares had fallen 3.41 per cent by midday.

Industrial accidents are common in China, where safety standards are often laxly enforced. In August, a pipeline explosion at a coal-fired power plant in Hubei province killed 21 people.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'At least 67 killed in Chinese power plant collapse'. Print Edition | Subscribe