It was in a school gym. There are eleven dead. The entire structure collsed after heavy rains.
Eleven people, mostly boys, died after the roof of a high school gym in Qiqihar, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, collsed while used by a women’s volleyball teamstate media report.
Distraught parents crowded into a nearby hospital asking for their children.
Only eight of the 19 people survived who were inside the gym in the industrial province of Heilongjiang.
Four esced and four survived after being pulled from the rubble.
CCTV footage showed the entire roof collsed over the gym and rescuers searching through the rubble.
The search and rescue operation involved about 160 firefighters and 39 trucks, CCTV reported.
Police arrested the heads of a local construction company, according to local media.
They were accused of dumping perlite, a form of volcanic glass, on the gym’s roof while working on an adjacent construction project.
The mineral had absorbed rainwater after heavy downpours, causing the roof to collse at 3:00 p.m. local time (4:00 a.m. in Argentina).
The coach of the high school girls’ volleyball team was heard yelling the names of the students as rescue teams made their way through rubble in the city of Qiqihar, China National Radio reported.
Parents criticized school officials, saying there was a lack of communication about the rescue effort, which lasted until Monday morning.
“They told me my daughter was gone but we never got to see her. All the boys had their faces covered in mud and blood when they were sent to the hospital. I begged please let me identify my daughter,” a man said in a video that was widely shared on social media.
“What have (the authorities) been doing four, five or even six hours after they sent the boys to the hospital? … The doctors do not communicate with us about how the rescue is going.
“We have elderly people at home, we need to (help) them to be mentally prepared. There are doctors, policemen and other government officials here. But we have not heard anything, ”he said, quoted by the BBC.
Many users on the country’s social networks echoed the father’s concerns in the videoquestioning the treatment that the police and civil servants at the scene they gave to concerned parents.
“Do people mean nothing to them?” wrote one angry user.
Others questioned why the perlite was present on the gym’s ceiling in the first place. “The cost of breaking the law is too low in this country, people have no respect for the law, that’s the key reason,” another user wrote.
Industrial accidents are common in China due to lax safety standards and poor supervision.
One of the worst such accidents took place in 2015 in Tianjin, where a gigantic explosion at a chemical warehouse killed at least 165 people.