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Collapsed hotel in Fujian was illegally constructed

By Hou Liqiang | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-15 09:11

A worker wearing a face mask rescues a child at the site where a hotel being used for the coronavirus quarantine collapsed, in the Southeast Chinese port city of Quanzhou, Fujian province, on March 8, 2020. [Photo/China Daily]

Accident that killed 29 had been 'caused by human factors', authorities conclude

A hotel that collapsed on March 7 in Quanzhou, Fujian province, killing 29 people, was an illegal building that violated renovation and reinforcement rules, authorities said on Tuesday.

Twenty-three suspects have been brought under police control and 49 officials have been punished for the accident deemed as one "caused by human factors".

The sudden collapse of the Xinjia hotel, which was serving as a quarantine facility when the accident occurred, also injured 42 people. Of the 71 that were trapped in the rubble, 58 had been under quarantine. The others included hotel staff and employees of businesses located on the ground floor.

The direct economic loss of the accident reached 57.9 million yuan ($8.3 million), according to an investigation report by a team dispatched by the State Council.

The direct cause of the accident was an effort by Xinxing Mechatronics and Industry Co in Quanzhou to change the four-story building into a seven-story one. The change caused the building to reach its maximum carrying capability. Before the accident occurred, the company resorted to welding to reinforce a pillar on the ground floor, which destabilized it and resulted in the building's collapse, it said.

Both the hotel and the company are controlled by Yang Jinqiang. The report said Yang and his employees "disregarded laws and regulations "regarding urban planning, construction, work safety and administrative approval.

Multiple agents, including those involved in engineering quality testing, architecture design, fire control testing and decoration design colluded with them to help get government approvals for the building's construction and reconstruction. They provided fake test reports and fabricated other necessary documents, it said.

Yang and 22 others who were suspected to have committed crimes related to the accident have been brought under police control.

With 66 rooms, the hotel went into operation in 2018. It was designated as a quarantine facility after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, announced on March 12 that it had set up a special investigation team to look into the accident.

The report also accused various government bodies of breaching their duties. For example, it said that as authorities overseeing buildings, the local housing and urban-rural development bureau failed to crack down on the illegal construction of the building, which had existed for a long time.

Local departments involved in territorial planning, public security and fire service were also criticized for failing to identify the fake documents.

It also said the government of Licheng district, where the hotel is located, overstepped its power boundaries because it lacked the authority to approve the construction of a large number of projects, including Xinjia.

According to the Fujian provincial authorities, 49 officials have been held accountable for the collapse.

Of those 49, seven have been transferred to the judiciary, including Lai Kaizu, former head of the Quanzhou bureau of land and resources, and Zhang Hanhui, deputy head of the Licheng public security bureau.

The other 42 officials, including Wang Yongli, mayor of Quanzhou, received "Party discipline and administrative punishment", it said.

"Local Party committees, governments and relevant government bodies, especially those in Fujian, Quanzhou and Licheng, should learn a profound lesson from the painful accident. They must fulfill their responsibilities in preventing and defusing major safety risks, ensuring priority is given to the safety of people's lives," the report said.

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