67 dead in China power plant collapse
At least 67 people were killed when an under-construction platform at a power plant collapsed in east China’s Jiangxi province on Thursday, the latest industrial disaster to hit the world’s second largest economy.
The accident occurred at 7:00 am (local time) when a cooling tower platform plunged to the ground, trapping people, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. About 70 people were working at the site when the platform collapsed at the Fengcheng Power Plant in the city of Yichun.
A total of 67 people were killed, one person was missing while two others were injured.
President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang urged local authorities to spare no efforts in the rescue, treatment and follow-up work.
More than 200 firefighters and sniffer dogs were deployed to carry out rescue operations. Thirty-two fire engines and 212 military personnel had were deployed, local officials said. Two drones and seven cranes were also involved in the rescue efforts.
Images from state broadcaster CCTV showed a pile of twisted metal and dozens of rescue workers searching for victims under the rubble.
The construction of two 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power units at the power station began last July and was expected to be completed by early 2018, the local government said.
The construction of the cooling tower was part of an expansion plan with an estimated cost of 7.67 billion yuan (about USD 1.1 billion).
The plant is owned by Jiangxi Ganneng Co. Ltd., a state-owned power corporation listed in Shenzhen. Trading of its shares was suspended today following the accident.
The tower was being constructed by Hebei Yineng Tower Engineering Co. Ltd.
According to Liao Huishou, an engineer from the firm in charge of the project, the designed height of the tower under construction was 156 metres, and over 70 metres had been built since April.
Wang Yaosheng, who was waiting to begin his shift, narrowly escaped death by running away when he saw the falling platform. “Several elevators collapsed. All those on the platform fell and were crushed by the steel bars and other materials. I was shocked,” he was quoted as saying. All workers on the ground managed to escape. Two were slightly injured, including Wang.
According to the rescuers, most of the victims were from the provinces of Hebei and Hubei. China has a long history of industrial accidents, from factory explosions to mine collapses and there have been growing demands for more stringent safety standards.
Last year, the Chinese port city of Tianjin was rocked by two massive blasts, killing at least 173 people and injuring hundreds others.
A metal dust explosion at a car parts factory in eastern China in August 2014 killed at least 75 people and injured more than 180.