SHANGHAI (AFP, XINHUA) – Seven people were killed on Thursday (May 16) when the roof of a Shanghai commercial building caved in upon construction workers who were renovating it, the city government said.
The accident occurred at around 11.20am in a central Shanghai neighbourhood, trapping an unspecified number of people at the site according to official Xinhua news agency.
About 21 people had been pulled out of the debris and rushed to hospital, it said, while two were known to be still trapped in the ruins.
The accident is under investigation as rescue efforts continue, Xinhua reported.
A verified social media account run by China’s emergency ministry showed pictures of rescue personnel digging bloodied and dust-coated workers out from amid piles of rubble, toppled concrete pillars and shattered wooden beams.
Authorities did not give details on the severity of the injuries suffered by survivors.
Police quickly sealed off the area with a huge security presence, preventing journalists from getting close.
The building had previously been used as a dealership for Mercedes-Benz cars, the fire rescue bureau said.
It was being redeveloped as a mixed-use arts and innovation site, according to Chinese media reports.
A local resident told AFP she was taking a nap when her bed suddenly began shaking, as if in an earthquake had struck. She then heard a loud bang.
“I thought it was an explosion at first,” said the woman, who declined to give her name or to comment further.
Chinese media reports said the building was around 3,000 square metres in area. Aerial pictures on social media appeared to indicate that the roof of about half of the building collapsed.
China has seen numerous building collapses in recent years, typically blamed on the country’s rapid growth leading to corner-cutting on construction, and the flouting of safety rules.
At least 20 people were killed in 2016 when a series of crudely-constructed multi-storey buildings that were packed with migrant workers collapsed in the eastern city of Wenzhou.