China building collapse death toll rises to 53, rescue mission ends

Rescue workers carry a survivor on a stretcher more than 131 hours after a building collapsed in Changsha, on May 5, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
The commercial building in Changsha city caved in on April 29, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP, XINHUA) - Chinese authorities have raised the death toll from a building collapse in central China to 53, state media reported on Friday (May 6), announcing the end of the rescue mission.

The commercial building in Changsha city caved in last Friday, prompting over six days of painstaking attempts to pull survivors free from the mass of rubble and twisted metal.

"The search and rescue work at the Changsha building collapse site has been completed," state broadcaster CCTV said.

"The trapped and incommunicado people from the accident scene have all been found...10 people were rescued and 53 people died."

City official Wu Guiying apologised for the incident during a Friday briefing, saying she was "extremely distressed" and offered a "sincere apology to society".

The 10th person pulled alive from the rubble just after midnight on Thursday had been buried in debris for nearly six days, state media reported earlier.

The confirmed number of dead from the collapse had previously been 26 as at Thursday evening.

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, has decided to set up an investigation team for the collapse.

The block had contained apartments, a hotel and a cinema. The flattened structure, which has left a gaping hole in a dense Changsha streetscape, created a mess of debris and crumbled concrete beams.

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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