5 rescued from building collapse in China, dozens missing

BEIJING (AP) — Rescuers in central China have pulled out alive five of 23 people trapped in a partially collapsed building, authorities said Saturday, while President Xi Jinping gave instructions to rescue the victims “at all costs.”

The six-story building in the city of Changsha partially collapsed on Friday. State broadcaster CCTV reported that the collapse trapped some 23 people who were in the building. But authorities also said that 39 others who were present around the site of the building when it toppled remain uncontactable, and rescue operations were underway.

Authorities said at a news conference that the five people who were rescued were in stable condition in a hospital.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the building housed a restaurant, a coffeeshop, a hotel, and several apartments, CCTV reported.

The tenants had made structural changes to the premises, and the exact cause of the collapse is still being investigated, the report said.

Following an increase in the number of self-built building collapses in recent years, Xi also said that it was necessary to check on such structures to investigate any hidden dangers and fix them in a timely manner to prevent the occurrence of major accidents, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Photos showed the front of the building largely intact, while the rear section appeared to have collapsed into itself.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for such disasters.