BEIJING (AFP) – A landslide last week that killed seven and has left dozens missing was an “industrial safety accident” rather than a geological disaster, a Chinese cabinet investigation found, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday (Dec 25).
The landslide, which struck the southern city of Shenzhen on Sunday (Dec 20), is the latest in a series of fatal man-made accidents in the world’s most populous country, coming just months after a massive chemical blast in the industrial city of Tianjin killed almost 200 people.
The disaster was caused by the improper storage of waste from construction sites, according to the official newspaper of the Ministry of Land and Resources.
Soil was illegally piled 100m high at an old quarry site and turned to mud during rain on Sunday morning, according to the state-run Global Times.
Some 75 people are still missing and seven bodies have been found so far, Xinhua said on Thursday (Dec 24) in the latest count, adding that only one rescued person, 19-year-old Tian Zeming, has made it out alive.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, announced earlier this week that it would set up a team headed by the minister of land resources to investigate the disaster.
Documents on the website of Guangming New District, where the landslide occurred, show that authorities were aware of problems with the soil storage and had urged action as early as July.
In an announcement dated July 10, officials said work at the site was not being carried out according to approved plans and ordered the Hongao Construction Waste Dump to “speed up” work to bring its operations into line.
The government issued a second warning in September, noting that the dump’s permit to receive waste had expired and authorities had made it clear that dumping should cease.
The city had “pointed out problems at the site and requested steps to correct them”, the statement said.