HANGZHOU: Seventeen people have been confirmed dead after residential buildings collapsed early Monday morning in Wenzhou City in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
The disaster happened around 4 a.m. in Wenzhou’s Lucheng industrial district.
As of 7 p.m., 23 people had been pulled from the debris, but only six survived, according to the district government.
The latest survivor is a young girl who was rescued at 6:45 p.m., according to the fire department of Wenzhou City. She was protected by the bodies of her parents, who were killed in the collapse.
The girl has been sent to a local hospital, firefighters said.
Rescuers said the collapsed buildings were built by villagers. Five adjacent houses built in the 1970s remain standing, but rescuers are demolishing them to avoid secondary disasters. Residents who live around the collapse site have been relocated to safe places, according to rescuers.
Sun Jing, an officer with the city’s fire department, said the debris was piled three stories high. “To protect those who are trapped, we are mainly digging with our bare hands, so the work is going slowly.”
According to Zhou Liqiang, who has been living nearby for over 10 years, the victims are mainly migrant workers.
Survivor Yan Yongfa, 57, said he shared one room with four other workers, and their boss rented the room for them. Each room in the collapsed building had two to three tenants, Yan said.
Rescuers are still verifying the number of people buried in the debris. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.