Eighth survivor recovered from China building collapse site as rescue hopes dim 

Rescuers working after a six-storey building collapsed in Changsha, in China's central Hunan province, on April 29, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - One person was pulled out alive Monday (May 2) from the rubble of a building that collapsed three days ago in central China, state-run television said, with hopes of finding more survivors fading fast. 

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

State-run CCTV showed images of a person wrapped in a thick white blanket being carried on a stretcher, with Monday’s recovery taking the total number of people found up to eight in three days.

Rescue workers in blue uniforms rushed the man to hospital with television channels providing no information on his condition.

At least 15 people identified by authorities are still trapped in the rubble while no contact has been established with 39 others.

Changsha mayor Zheng Jianxin had initially said the government would “seize the golden 72 hours for rescue”, a window that closed on Monday afternoon.  The day before, a seventh survivor was found alive after 50 hours of search and rescue operations, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

A one-metre-thick wall had separated her from rescuers, who located her after detecting signs of life at the spot.

Changsha police said nine people – including the building’s owner and a team of safety inspectors – were detained as of Sunday in connection with the accident.  

Authorities alleged that surveyors had falsified a safety audit of the building. 

More than 700 first responders were dispatched to the scene of the disaster, which left a gaping hole in a dense streetscape. 

State media on Sunday showed firefighters – backed by a digger – cutting through a morass of metal and sheets of concrete, while rescuers shouted into the tower of debris to communicate with any survivors.  

President Xi Jinping had on Saturday 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. 

In January, an explosion triggered by a suspected gas leak brought down a building in the city of Chongqing, killing at least 16 people.

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