Scaffolding collapse in China kills dozens

Nick Myall
Thursday 24 Nov 2016

An industrial accident at a cooling tower construction site claims lives in China

Scaffolding at a construction site in eastern China collapsed on Thursday (24 November) killing at least 67 people. The collapse of the work platform occurred at a power plant cooling tower that was under construction, state media reported. 

The cooling tower was being built in the city of Fengcheng in Jiangxi province when the scaffolding collapsed at about 7:30 a.m, an official with the local Work Safety Administration who would only give his surname, Yuan, said by telephone.

China has seen a series of major industrial accidents in recent months which have been blamed on corruption, a disregard for safety and pressure to boost production as the Beijing economy has slowed.

According to Associated Press, the reported death toll suggested that nearly all the construction workers at the cooling tower perished. Close to 70 people were working at the site when the scaffolding gave out, according to local media reports.

About 500 rescue workers, including paramilitary police officers, were digging through the debris with their hands, according to state broadcaster CCTV. It showed debris strewn across the floor of the cavernous, 165m (545-foot) -high concrete cooling tower, in the middle of which stood an unfinished structure.

Rescue dogs were seeking to locate survivors or the bodies of victims, while backhoes shifted wreckage to the margins of the massive round tower.

Construction of the 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant at the centre of Thursday's accident began in Fengcheng in late 2015 and was expected to be finished in November 2017. Provincial officials held a televised news conference late Thursday at which they bowed to express condolences to the workers' families.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Hundreds of coal-fired power plants are under construction in China.

Beijing has vowed to solve a looming problem of power oversupply and cap greenhouse gas emissions in the medium term, but economic planners said earlier in November they intend to boost coal power generation capacity by a fifth over the next five years, or the equivalent output of hundreds of new coal-fired plants.

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