Beijing (AFP) Nov 21, 2010
Chinese rescuers on Sunday freed a man working on an offshore platform after a three-day ordeal trapped in a twisted steel pipe beneath the sea, state media reported.
The 43-year-old, identified only by his surname Fan, was saved after being trapped for 80 hours in a one-metre- (3.3 foot-) diameter steel pipe that sank 18 metres below the sea on Thursday.
Fan was working at the bottom of the pipe off the coast of eastern Zhejiang province when tidal pressure suddenly crushed it "like a beverage can", trapping him inside, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The upper part of the pipe was squeezed to three centimetres (one inch) at its narrowest part, the report said. While trapped, Fan received food and water through a tube and counselling from a psychiatrist.
Footage on China Central Television showed workers cutting Fan out with a blowtorch after raising the section of pipe out of the sea.
He was shown being lifted onto a stretcher and being rushed to hospital, but reports said he suffered no serious injuries.
China is considered one of the world's most dangerous places to work with an average of 187 people killed in work-related accidents each day in the first half of this year, according to government figures.
earlier related report
Lines of solemn mourners stretched for several blocks under the watch of hundreds of police, who allowed them to slowly file past the front of the building and place chrysanthemums, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning.
"I didn't expect so many people would come. I only wanted to have a look but didn't expect so many people would show up here with flowers," said Xu Xinfang, 27, as she carried a bouquet toward the foot of the building.
The inferno in the 28-storey block caused some panicked residents to attempt desperate jumps to safety or seek refuge on construction scaffolding surrounding the structure.
Shanghai residents have been going to the scene for days but Sunday's crowds were the largest yet. According to Chinese tradition the seventh day after a death, counting inclusively, marks the height of the mourning period.
Tens of thousands of people joined the procession as volunteers handed out free flowers stem by stem.
Shanghai's Communist Party Chief Yu Zhengsheng, Mayor Han Zheng and other senior officials joined the mourning crowd, bowing three times before laying down flowers, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
But Chinese authorities' unease towards mass gatherings was also on show as more than 500 uniformed and plainclothes police directed the crowds and dispersed agitated residents who were talking about the fire.
"There are more people here than yesterday. It shows the great sadness of the Chinese people," said Harry Zhu, a 40-year-old office worker, who returned on Sunday with his wife, daughter and mother after visiting the day before.
Families have set up small altars with portraits of the deceased, where they burned candles and incense, and laid out offerings of food.
Friends and relatives were expected to hold a vigil through the night for the victims, local media reported.
Traditional belief holds the dead revisit their families before leaving for good on the seventh day. Family members prepare a feast for the dead and burn a paper ladder to help them climb to heaven.
Posters around the scene featured a black ribbon and the messages "Don't cry Shanghai" and "Mourn the victims in Shanghai's Jiaozhou Road Fire" in English and Chinese.
A preliminary investigation has blamed Monday's blaze on on careless work by unlicensed welders who ignited nylon netting swathing the building, which was being renovated.
Police are holding 12 people in connection with the fire, the government has said.
China has ordered a nationwide overhaul of fire-control measures after the disaster, the latest incident to highlight chronic poor fire safety in the country.
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