BEIJING: Police in central China announced the detention of nine people on Sunday over a collapsed building, as increasingly desperate rescuers comb the debris for any survivors.

The building, in Changsha city, housed a hotel, apartments and a cinema. It caved in Friday afternoon, leaving a gaping hole in the dense streetscape.

At least 18 people were trapped and another 39 were incommunicado, according to city mayor Zheng Jianxin.

Five people were rescued from the pancaked structure overnight.

Changsha police said on social media that the building’s owner and three others responsible for its design and construction were detained on Sunday on suspicion of “major responsibility for an accident”.

Another five people, all members of a private building inspection firm, “provided a false safety report after conducting a building safety audit of the hotel”, the statement on Twitter-like Weibo said.

No cause for the disaster has yet been given by authorities.

Changsha’s mayor vowed to “seize the golden 72 hours for rescue and try our best to search for the trapped people” in a news briefing, adding that over 700 first responders had been dispatched to the scene.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2022

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