85 missing a day after Shenzhen landslide, residents blame government

SHENZHEN, China -- Rescuers searched Monday for 85 missing people a day after the collapse of a mountain of excavated soil and construction waste that had been piled up over two years in China's manufacturing centre of Shenzhen.

See Full Article

Authorities said the landslide buried or damaged 33 buildings in the industrial park in Shenzhen, a city near Hong Kong that makes products used around the world ranging from cellphones to cars.

Residents blamed the government while officials cited human error, with one ministry saying, "The pile was too big, the pile was too steep."

The landslide Sunday covered an area of 380,000 square meters (450,000 square yards) with silt 10 metres (33 feet) deep, authorities said. At least 16 people were hospitalized, including children, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The Shenzhen government said seven trapped people had been rescued and 85 others remained missing Monday evening. Earlier in the day it had said 91 people were missing and seven rescued, but it gave no explanation for the change in the missing. No deaths had been reported.

The landslide is the fourth major disaster to strike China in a year following a deadly New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai, the capsizing of a cruise ship in the Yangtze River and a massive explosion at a chemicals warehouse in Tianjin on the coast near Beijing.

Human error has been suspected or confirmed in all three previous disasters, pointing to an often callous attitude toward safety in China despite the threat of harsh penalties.

In Sunday's landslide, the Ministry of Land and Resources said a steep man-made mountain of dirt, cement chunks and other construction waste had been piled up against a 100-meter (330-foot) -high hill over the past two years.

Heavy rains in the region saturated the soil, making it heavy and unstable, and ultimately causing it to collapse with massive force.

"The pile was too big, the pile was too steep, leading to instability and collapse," the ministry said, adding that the original, natural hill remained intact.

Some residents blamed government negligence.

"If the government had taken proper measures in the first place, we would not have had this problem," said Chen Chengli.

Chen's neighbour, Yi Jimin, said the disaster wasn't an act of nature.

"Heavy rains and a collapse of a mountain are natural disasters, but this wasn't a natural disaster, this was man-made," Yi said.

Aerial photos from the microblog of the Public Security Ministry's Firefighting Bureau showed the area awash in a sea of red mud, with buildings either knocked on their side or collapsed entirely.

Posts on the microblog said the mud had filled many of the buildings, leaving the "room of survival extremely small."

Cellphone camera video of the disaster on state broadcaster CCTV showed a massive wall of debris slamming into the buildings and sending up huge plumes of dust.

A man who runs a store selling cigarettes and alcohol less than a kilometre (a half mile) from the site said local residents had known that the pile of soil was dangerous and feared something bad would happen.

"We heard a sound like an explosion and then all we saw was smoke," said the man, who gave only his surname, Dong. "We knew what had happened immediately."

The Ministry of Land and Resources said it had dispatched personnel to help guard against a second collapse.

The damaged buildings included 14 factories, two office buildings, one cafeteria, three dormitories and 13 sheds or workshops, Shenzhen Deputy Mayor Liu Qingsheng said at a news conference.

The Shenzhen government said 600 people had been relocated.

Nearly 3,000 people were involved in the rescue efforts, aided by 151 cranes, backhoes and other construction equipment, along with rescue dogs and specialized life-detecting equipment.

CCTV said President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang issued orders to make rescuing those trapped the top priority.

The initial landslide sparked an explosion in a gas pipeline owned by PetroChina, the country's top oil and gas producer. By Monday morning, the fire was extinguished and a temporary section of pipe was being laid.

Three decades of headlong economic growth have been catching up with China in terms of safety and damage to the environment. Many of the country's major cities suffer from chronic air pollution. A four-day smog red alert continued in Beijing on Monday, forcing schools to close, factories to curtail production and half the city's cars off the roads.

Associated Press writers Louise Watt and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • More stalkers using technology, StatsCan says

    Canada News CTV News
    The number of stalking incidents in Canada decreased over a 10-year period, but technology has changed the way victims are stalked, according to a new Statistics Canada report. The report, published Wednesday, looked at the prevalence of stalking, as reported by victims, across Canada between 2004 and 2014. Source
  • Supporters of newly freed Diab want inquiry into his extradition to France

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Supporters of Hassan Diab, recently freed by French authorities, want a public inquiry into his extradition on suspicion of murder. Diab's lawyer, Donald Bayne, says Canada never should have sent the Ottawa sociology professor to France. Source
  • Erotic zone: Laval imposes new rules on sex businesses

    Canada News CTV News
    The southwestern Quebec city of Laval has introduced new measures to limit strip clubs, sex shops and massage parlours to one industrial zone. City officials in Laval, Que. voted to adopt the amendments to bylaw L-2000 on Tuesday night. Source
  • Ex-CIA officer arrested, charged with keeping documents

    World News CTV News
    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A former CIA officer has been arrested and charged with illegally retaining classified records, including names and phone numbers of covert CIA assets. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, was arrested Monday night after arriving at JFK International Airport. Source
  • Lac-Megantic jury deliberating for seventh straight day

    Canada News CTV News
    SHERBROOKE, Que. -- Jurors are deliberating for a seventh consecutive day today at the trial of three men charged with criminal negligence causing death in the Lac-Megantic railway disaster. The 12 jurors sent the judge a letter Tuesday telling him they were at an impasse. Source
  • Ontario family 'disheartened' by ruling that Ft. William sanatorium not a residential school

    Canada News CBC News
    The family of an 84-year-old Indigenous woman who tried to get a former sanatorium in what is now Thunder Bay, Ont., designated as a residential school says they're "disheartened" by a recent ruling. Ruth Ann Henry was the applicant in an amended request for direction, filed in 2014, to get the "Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium School" added to the residential school settlement agreement. Source
  • Across the U.S. South, it's snow, ice and record-breaking cold

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- The South awoke Wednesday to a two-part Arctic mess that caused problems as far south as the Gulf Coast. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, then came the freezing wind chills and record-breaking low temperatures in New Orleans and other cities. Source
  • Two bodies found in home west of Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    OAKVILLE, Ont. -- Police say they're investigating after two bodies were found in a home west of Toronto. Halton Regional Police released few details of the scene they found at the home in Oakville, Ont. Source
  • Bitcoin slumps below $10K US, then rebounds even as regulatory fears intensify

    World News CBC News
    Bitcoin skidded below $10,000 US on Wednesday, halving in value from its peak price, with investors gripped by fears regulators could clamp down on the volatile cryptocurrency that sky-rocketed last year. The price of bitcoin, the world's biggest and best known cryptocurrency, fell to as low as $9,315 US on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, the lowest since late November 2017 Source
  • Canadian reported kidnapped on road to capital in Nigeria

    World News CBC News
    Kidnappers have abducted one Canadian and one American in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing two police officers, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. They were ambushed by unknown gunmen around Kagarko on their way from the city of Kaduna to the capital Abuja, Mukhtar Aliyu, a spokesman for the Kaduna state police, said by phone. Source