Shenzhen landslide sets off full probe into waste sites

Cracked walls and pavements at the Shandong gypsum mine that caved in on Friday, killing one person and trapping 17. Rescue workers trying to reach survivors yesterday after having drilled a hole through the debris at the Shenzhen industrial park. Mo
Rescue workers trying to reach survivors yesterday after having drilled a hole through the debris at the Shenzhen industrial park. More than 30 buildings collapsed during the landslide on Dec 20 and around 70 people are missing.PHOTO: REUTERS
Cracked walls and pavements at the Shandong gypsum mine that caved in on Friday, killing one person and trapping 17. Rescue workers trying to reach survivors yesterday after having drilled a hole through the debris at the Shenzhen industrial park. Mo
Cracked walls and pavements at the Shandong gypsum mine that caved in on Friday, killing one person and trapping 17. PHOTO: REUTERS

Guangdong authorities step in after Shenzhen disaster; illegal or badly managed sites must go

BEIJING • China's southern province of Guangdong, one of the country's biggest industrial bases, will check all construction waste sites in the wake of a deadly landslide, to ensure that none are in dangerous locations or poorly managed, state media said yesterday.

The Dec 20 landslide in the boom town of Shenzhen buried more than 30 buildings in an industrial park. Around 70 people are missing, and only a handful of bodies have been found so far.

The central government on Friday labelled the landslide a man-made disaster, and is looking into whether criminal malpractice is to blame.

The Guangdong government said there were many problems with the management of building waste sites, including safety issues, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Sites found operating in "forbidden zones", for instance, close to hospitals, residential neighbourhoods, kindergartens and rail lines, will need to be moved immediately, with cities being responsible for moving them, Xinhua added.

Those found responsible for illegal or poorly managed sites would be prosecuted, and efforts need to be made to speed up development of a risk management system, it said.

Yixianglong - the company managing the Shenzhen dump site where the landslide occurred - was urged to stop work four days before the disaster, an executive with a government-appointed monitoring agency said on Thursday.

Xinhua earlier reported that the dump site was being used 10 months after it was supposed to have stopped taking waste, earning Yixianglong some 7.5 million yuan (S$1.6 million) in fees.

Separately, the owner of a Chinese gypsum mine committed suicide yesterday after a cave-in that killed one person and left 17 trapped, state media said.

Mr Ma Congbo drowned himself while he was at the scene helping in the rescue, the official Xinhua news agency said. He was chairman of Yurong, the company that owned the mine.

More than 700 rescue workers are battling to save the workers following the accident on Friday in the eastern province of Shandong, it said, adding that four had managed to escape and seven more had been pulled out of the mine.

Rescuers have drilled a hole to try to get to one area where the workers are trapped, and are attempting to get food and water to them.

Accidents in Chinese coal mines killed 931 people last year, according to government data.

Figures for all mining accidents were not available.

China, the world's largest producer of coal, says the number of fatalities is declining.

But some rights groups say under-reporting means the actual figures are significantly higher.

Anger over industrial safety standards has been growing following scores of deaths this year, including those from this month's landslide in the commercial hub of Shenzhen and a chemical blast in the industrial city of Tianjin in August.

The cause of the gypsum mine collapse is under investigation, Xinhua said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Landslide sets off full probe into waste sites'. Print Edition | Subscribe