Safety checks halt Xi'an's construction work

Updated: 2011-09-13 07:37

By Xu Wei and Ma Lie (China Daily)

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XI'AN - Safety inspection teams have been sent to construction and demolition sites in the capital city of Shaanxi province after two accidents at building sites killed 12 people over the weekend.

Safety checks halt Xi'an's construction work
Rescuers search for survivors at the collapsed Huaqiao shopping mall in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Sunday. A wall at the mall collapsed on Sunday morning, killing two people and injuring two others. The shopping mall is being demolished and has been closed to customers. [Photo/China Daily]

Sun Qingyun, Xi'an's Party chief, has demanded all construction sites in the city stop work for three days for safety checks. Work at a site can only be resumed if it passes the inspection.

Sun said at a conference on safety that construction and demolition sites and special equipment (such as elevators, pipelines and boilers) would be the main targets for inspection.

The city government's decision came after two people died and two others were injured when the wall of a shopping mall collapsed on Sunday, and after 10 people died and three were injured when scaffolding at another building collapsed on Saturday.

Sunday's accident happened about 10 am when the exterior wall of the Huaqiao shopping mall, which is on Xi'an's main downtown shopping street, collapsed, trapping one worker and three passers-by.

Two died after being pulled from the rubble and one remains in hospital.

The Huaqiao shopping mall at Dongda Street was built in 1954 and was being demolished at the time of the collapse.

The survivor, a 14-year-old girl, was on her way to an English class when piles of rubble fell on her.

"All of a sudden there was a roaring noise and rubble started falling from above," the girl, who only wanted to be identified as Wu, told Xi'an-based Chinese Business Review. She owed her survival to a plastic sign that protected her head from falling bricks.

Wu Jun, the father of the girl, said although she only suffered scratches, he was concerned about the accident's long-term psychological effects on her.

"She is having an entrance examination for senior middle school next year and already is facing immense pressure," Wu told China Daily on the phone. "The experience will definitely be long-lasting because she was trapped in the rubble for 40 minutes."

Wu said that the local authority has already arranged psychological treatment for his daughter. The reason for the accident remains to be determined, an official told a news conference.

According to a Chinese Business Review report, the demolition team is certified and the demolition work has been approved by the local authority.

The accident followed a series of similar incidents at construction sites in the city.

On Saturday, scaffolding collapsed outside a 30-story building, causing seven immediate deaths and three more after medical treatment failed to save some of the injured.

The 10 people killed were engaged in exterior decorating work when scaffolding chains from the 23rd floor to the 30th floor collapsed at about 8:30 am.

On Sept 6, several temporary houses at a construction site fell into a foundation pit due to land subsidence. No one was injured. The accident resulted in an emergency evacuation of residents living nearby and also endangered a residential building next to the pit, which was more than 10 meters deep.

Xinhua contributed to this story.