Scaffolding collapses in Zhuhai


Zhujiang Evening News
October 28, 2009

In Zhuhai yesterday morning, metal scaffolding peeled off the side of a building, crushing seven cars and injuring two workmen.

Zhujiang Evening News devoted most of its front page to a large photo of the accident site, and covered the incident in detail inside:

“It was a sharp sound, like a child shouting,” said a cook at a neighboring restaurant who had come out when he heard the sound to see the scaffolding slumping downward. It was about 10:30 in the morning, and the entire process lasted just a few seconds.

“There was so much dust!” said Mr. Zhou, a guard in the area. He rushed over when he saw the situation and then called the police. Soon after, he saw the two workmen get rescued. “The building has been there for years. It’s now being renovated for the opening of the Longfa Hotel, and it’s been under construction for about two months.”

“It’s got nothing to do with us,” said a middle-aged man instructing service staff at the Longfa Seafood Pavilion just across the street. Though his clothing was clean, his shoes were covered in dust. He said that he was a manager at Longfa, but that the incident at the building had “nothing to do” with Longfa, nor did he know the purpose of the renovations. “It probably collapsed when they were taking down the scaffolding.” For quite some time, the attention of the man and his companions was held by the building where the accident had occurred.

Only two workmen were in the area at the time of the collapse. Mr. Huang, who was on the second level of the scaffolding, jumped off when he noticed bars bending but ended up getting crushed by falling bars and breaking his pelvis. Mr. Li was on the ground and ran toward the building when the scaffolding started to fall. He escaped with minor injuries.

Construction methods are being blamed:

“I put up the scaffolding,” said Mr. Li. He said that at first, the steel rods attaching the scaffolding to the building were the same as what made up the scaffolding itself, but a few days ago when the time came to install window glass, someone suggested exchanging the steel rods for cables. He had objected: “There’s no way those would be able to handle as much as steel rods. But they’ve already swapped most of them out.”

An employee of the Xiangzhou District Safety Supervision Bureau said that their initial investigation had found that the incident was related to the way the scaffolding was attached to the building wall, but hidden causes had not been ruled out because access was still impossible, so a specific reason awaited further investigation. “The building used to be a workshop, and Longfa wants to turn it into a hotel.”

The newspaper also reports that proper permits were not obtained for the work on the building, so the authorities have not yet been able to locate anyone in charge of the renovations.

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