53 dead in Chinese building collapse as rescue operation ends

BEIJING — A building collapsed in central China a week ago, killing 53 people, state media reported Friday. The search for the large pile of rubble ended after rescue teams found 10 survivors.

Authorities said at a press conference that all missing persons had been identified as of 3 a.m., state-run CCTV said in an online post.

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Residential and commercial buildings in Changsha City suddenly collapsed on the afternoon of April 29th. According to aerial photos, it was demolished to about two stories high amongst other buildings about six stories high. At least nine people have been arrested for ignoring building codes or other violations.

Survivors were rescued from the wreckage for several days. The tenth and last one went out just after midnight on Thursday, 5.5 days after the collapse. All survivors were reported to be in good condition after receiving treatment at the hospital.

Five people were arrested, including the owner of the building, three people in charge of design and construction, and false safety assessments on the 4th and 6th floors of the guesthouse. The building also housed residences, cafes and restaurants.

Rescuers used search dogs, hand tools, drones and electronic life detectors.

In Monday’s account of the rescue of the eighth survivor, state media said rescuers were faced with a precarious pile of rubble that had to be cleared rather than crushed. Before being rescued, they were able to communicate with the girl via video equipment and confirm that one of the legs was trapped. They also gave her saline to drink.

With the number of collapses of self-built buildings increasing in recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for further inspections to uncover structural weaknesses.

The causes of these disasters are often blamed for not properly complying with safety standards such as illegal addition of floors and non-use of rebar. Declining infrastructure, such as gas pipes, has also led to explosions and collapses.

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