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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Father's last embrace saves girl in China building collapse
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 11, 2016


Multiple China building collapse kills at least 20: Xinhua
Beijing (AFP) Oct 10, 2016 - A series of multi-storey buildings built by local villagers and packed with migrant workers collapsed in China on Monday, killing at least 20 people, the government and reports said.

Four residential buildings caved in during the early hours at Wenzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, the Lucheng district government said in a social media posting.

Some 20 people have been confirmed dead and six rescued, the official Xinhua news agency reported, but without giving indications of total numbers missing.

Pictures from the scene showed workers in orange suits sifting through a mountain of rubble.

Xinhua said earlier that rescuers were still verifying the number of people trapped under the debris.

But it cited survivor Yan Yongfa, a 57-year-old migrant worker, as saying that each room housed at least two to three people -- many of them migrants like himself.

Yan lived with four other workers in a room rented for them by their boss.

Hundreds of millions of people have moved from China's countryside to its towns and cities in recent decades, their labour fuelling its economic boom.

But many remain poorly paid and face restrictions on buying homes in the areas where they work.

The cause of the collapse was still under investigation.

"To protect those who are trapped, we are mainly digging with our bare hands so that work is going slowly," fire department officer Sun Jing told Xinhua, adding that the debris was piled three storeys high.

Neighbouring buildings constructed in the 1970s were being demolished to prevent further collapses, the agency added.

China has seen several building collapses in recent years, with some blamed on low-quality construction.

In May 16 people were reported dead after a residential building in Guizhou province in the southwest collapsed due to landslides.

Two people were killed and 24 injured in April when a storm brought down a wholesale market building in Foshan city in the southern province of Guangdong.

A little girl protected by the embrace of her dead father was the last survivor pulled out of the rubble of collapsed multi-storey buildings in China, reports said Tuesday.

She was found deep in the debris of four six-storey residential buildings more than 12 hours after they crumbled in Wenzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, killing at least 22 people, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Three-year-old Wu Ningxi survived with only minor injuries thanks to the protection offered by her young father, who was found dead after shielding her from falling rubble, it added.

"The child was able to survive entirely thanks to the fact that her dad used his own flesh and blood to prop up a life-saving space for his daughter," a rescuer told the China Youth Daily.

The 26-year-old shoe factory worker was found under a thick cement pillar, draped over his daughter.

The family had been buried alive in their living room and the body of Wu's mother was discovered not far from the pair.

Photos showed hard-hatted rescuers lifting the girl's half-naked body from the mess of cement and fallen bricks late Monday, her hair matted with dust as they carried her out and gingerly placed her onto a stretcher.

The search through the three-storey-high debris concluded early Tuesday, the Lucheng district government said at a press conference, with 22 confirmed dead and only five survivors other than the girl rescued.

The cause of the disaster was still under investigation, CCTV said.

Recent heavy rainfall combined with the poor quality of construction and age of the buildings, built by the villagers themselves, were probable contributing factors, it cited a preliminary analysis as saying.

Neighbouring buildings constructed in the 1970s were being demolished to prevent further collapses, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The buildings had been packed with migrant workers, among them Wu's parents, hundreds of millions of whom have moved from China's countryside to its towns and cities in recent decades, their labour fuelling the country's economic boom.

Many remain poorly paid and face restrictions on buying homes in the areas where they work.

China has seen several building collapses in recent years, with some blamed on low-quality construction.

In May 16 people were reported dead after a residential building in Guizhou province in the southwest collapsed due to landslides.


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