Hundreds of emergency workers have been deployed to the site of a building collapse in Changsha, central China


Hundreds of emergency workers have been deployed to the site of a building collapse in Changsha, central China – Copyright CNS/AFP/File –

At least two people have died in a building that collapsed in central China, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday, four days into a rescue operation searching for dozens still missing.

The commercial building in Changsha city, Hunan province — which housed apartments, a hotel and a cinema — caved in on Friday, sparking a massive rescue effort with hundreds of emergency responders.

“Nine people have been extracted, and two have died,” Xinhua said Tuesday citing local officials, without specifying if the dead were among those extracted from the rubble.

Earlier in the day, emergency workers had pulled out a woman alive from the flattened structure, state media said, hailing it as a “miracle”.

She was the ninth person to be extracted from the debris in four days, and state broadcaster CCTV showed footage of a person wrapped in a thick striped blanket being carried on a stretcher.

“Looking forward to more miracles,” CCTV wrote on its official social media page.

The Communist Party-run People’s Daily said the woman was conscious and able to talk to rescuers through a small hole before being rescued, adding that her “vital signs were stable.”

– Search ‘at all cost’ –

The collapsed building had left a gaping hole in the dense streetscape of Changsha city.

Over the weekend, state media showed firefighters backed by heavy machinery trying to cut through mangled metal and concrete.

At least 14 were people still known to be trapped in the rubble while no contact had been established with 39 others.

Nine people — including the building’s owner and a team of safety inspectors — have been detained in connection with the accident, according to Changsha police.

Authorities have alleged that surveyors falsified a safety audit of the building. 

President Xi Jinping had called for a search “at all cost” and ordered a thorough investigation into the cause of the collapse, state media reported.

Building collapses are not uncommon in China due to weak safety and construction standards, as well as corruption among officials tasked with enforcement.

In January, an explosion triggered by a suspected gas leak brought down a building in the city of Chongqing, killing at least 16 people.

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