Rescuers in central China have pulled a survivor from the rubble of a mixed-use building 88 hours after its collapse, the ninth person to be found alive so far.
The unnamed woman was discovered by a search team in Changsha, Hunan province, who heard her banging on objects inside the structure, which had caved in last Friday, said China’s official news service Xinhua.
Firefighters made visual contact with the woman and freed her from the debris at 4:15 a.m. local time on Tuesday, before driving her to a hospital. Medics at the scene said the survivor was conscious and able to communicate lucidly with her rescuers. Her vital signs were normal, Xinhua said.
News of her rescue came some 16 hours after a crucial window described by Changsha Mayor Zheng Jianxin as the “golden 72 hours.” The eighth survivor had been found on Monday afternoon.
More than 700 emergency responders were sent to the site in Changsha’s Wangcheng district after the eight-story building—described by authorities as “self-built”—came down at 12:24 p.m. local time on April 29, leaving a notable gap in a row of structures of a similar height.
According to a preliminary investigation, the cave-in was confirmed to have trapped a total of 23 people including at least one child. A further 39 people were said to be out of reach and therefore unaccounted for.
On Sunday, Changsha police said it had detained nine people in connection with the building collapse. They included the building’s owner, who was accused of ignoring building codes and other violations. Individuals involved in the design, construction and safety inspection of the structure were also held, the authorities said in a brief statement online.
Chinese state media reports said a hotel was run from the building’s second floor, while a cafe operated on the third. The fourth, fifth and sixth floors belonged to a guest house, and the seventh and eighth stories were private residences.
The building was constructed in 2012 as six floors. Two additional floors were added in 2018, the reports said, citing the local government’s findings. The tenants made structural changes to the building, but the authorities are yet to determine whether they contributed to last week’s collapse.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, has called for a comprehensive investigation into the incident as well as any “hidden dangers” that may exist in other structures, in order to prevent similar major accidents in the future, Xinhua quoted him as saying over the weekend.
A failure to enforce safety standards and lax oversight at a local government level have been blamed for a number of deadly building collapses in recent years.
In July 2021, a three-story, 54-room hotel in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, caved in one afternoon, killing 17 people and injuring five others.