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Death toll rises to 26 in central China building collapse

Death toll rises to 26 in central China building collapse

BEIJING – The death toll jumped Thursday to 26 from the collapse last week of a residential and commercial building in central China, state media reported.

Ten other people have been rescued from the wreckage in the city of Changsha, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The 10th survivor, an unidentified woman, was pulled out shortly after midnight on Thursday, nearly six days after the building suddenly caved in on April 29, Xinhua said. Rescue teams with search dogs have been searching through the rubble since then.

The woman was conscious and advised rescuers on how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua said. Teams also used hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.

At least nine people have been arrested in connection with the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building” on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations. Varying reports have said the building was either six or eight stories tall.

All of the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital. Intermittent rain showers in recent days may have increased their chances of survival without food or water.

In an account of Monday’s rescue of the eighth survivor pulled out, state media said rescuers faced an unstable pile of rubble that they had to work around rather than demolish. Prior to the rescue, they were able to feed in video equipment to communicate with the girl and establish that one of her legs was trapped.

Before retreating to draw up a strategy, they fed in saline solution for her to drink, to which she responded, “Don’t worry big brother, I know you’ll be back for me right away,” the reports said.

No other details about the girl or her condition were given.

The arrested include the building owner, three people in charge of design and construction and five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

The building also housed residences, a cafe and a restaurant.

An increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to call last month for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for such disasters. China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.

©2022 The Associated Press

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