Image: Rescuers rest on mud as excavators dig through the debris to search for survivors at the site of a landslide which hit an industrial park on Sunday, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, December 22, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
By Paul Carsten
SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) – A man was pulled alive from rubble in a southern Chinese city on Wednesday, more than 60 hours after a waste heap collapsed and buried dozens of buildings in mud and construction debris, state media said.
Tian Zeming, who was found at 3:30 a.m. (1930 GMT Tuesday), was in a coherent state but his legs had been crushed in Sunday’s landslide at an industrial park in Shenzhen, a boomtown near Hong Kong.
“He told the soldiers who rescued him, there is another survivor close by,” state news agency Xinhua said, although it later reported rescuers had found another body rather than a survivor.
That took the confirmed death toll to two. The government has said more than 70 people are missing in China’s latest industrial disaster, although this figure continues to be revised down as authorities make contact with people who were believed to have been buried but were not.
Firefighters had to squeeze into a narrow room around Tian and pull debris out by hand at the dump site in Hengtaiyu industrial park, rescuer Zhang Yabin told Xinhua.
Tian has had surgery and is in a stable condition in hospital, though he may lose a foot, the Xinhua report said.
On Tuesday, police raided offices of the company that was managing the dump site, Shenzhen Yixianglong Investment Development.
Chinese news portals said police had taken away a deputy general manager named Yu Shengli. Calls to the company seeking comment went unanswered. Shenzhen police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Xinhua said the dump was being used 10 months after it was supposed to have stopped taking waste, earning Yixianglong some 7.5 million yuan ($1.16 million) in fees.
While no waste is being brought to the Hengtaiyu industrial park now, dumping has also stopped at another controversial site in Shenzhen, in the district of Bujiuwo, which opened in 2008 and was due to close three years later.
Its use was extended in 2013 despite strong opposition from residents and even some local politicians, according to Chinese newspapers.
A Reuters reporter saw dozens of trucks sitting idle in a parking lot on the site on Wednesday.
“We stopped because of the landslide,” said a Bujiuwo waste collection site worker, who gave his family name as Huang.
“It’s usually very busy here,” he said, adding that hundreds of trucks usually come and go every day. “We’ve stopped since the second day of the disaster.”
Security guards did not let Reuters enter the site’s main offices.
Shenzhen media has warned that the city was running out of space to store construction waste, especially as the city works on an ambitious subway construction scheme.
The landslide was the second major man-made disaster in China in four months. At least 160 people were killed in massive chemical blasts in the northern port city of Tianjin in August.
With growing worries about China’s industrial safety standards and lack of oversight, Premier Li Keqiang ordered an investigation within hours of the mudslide in Shenzhen, a city whose boom has helped fuel breakneck growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
Xinhua said a formal investigation team had been established.
($1 = 6.4766 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)
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