13 de­tained in China over deadly con­struc­tion crash

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties de­tained 13 peo­ple over the col­lapse of scaf­fold­ing at a power plant con­struc­tion site that killed 74 work­ers, as a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion ze­roed in on how the build­ing com­pany had rushed the job.

Most of the dead had been work­ing on the in­te­rior con­crete wall of a mas­sive cir­cu­lar cool­ing tower 70 me­ters (230 feet) up when the scaf­fold­ing col­lapsed Thurs­day morn­ing, re­sult­ing in one of China’s most se­ri­ous in­dus­trial ac­ci­dents in years. In a state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day, the com­mit­tee of the State Coun­cil, or China’s cabi­net, said early find­ings sug­gested that a short­ened time­frame for the power plant project, hasty con­struc­tion and mis­man­age­ment played a role in the dis­as­ter, with­out giv­ing de­tails.

Although au­thor­i­ties did not dis­close de­tails about the 13 de­ten­tions, the fo­cus of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has turned to the power plant’s op­er­a­tor, Jiangxi Gan­neng, and a ma­jor en­gi­neer­ing firm, He­bei Yi­neng, which has taken on mul­ti­ple high­pro­file power plant projects and has a his­tory of work­place fa­tal­i­ties.

Yi­neng has won con­tracts to build plants in more than a dozen prov­inces and in Turkey and Malaysia, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous in­ter­views given by ex­ec­u­tives. In 2012, seven Yi­neng builders in a cool­ing tower in Yun­nan prov­ince tum­bled to their deaths af­ter scaf­fold­ing col­lapsed. Three years be­fore that, two work­ers died af­ter a ve­hi­cle ac­ci­den­tally backed into a scaf­fold­ing sup­port beam at a Yi­neng-built cool­ing tower in Guang­dong prov­ince.

Sev­eral of the com­pany’s pub­licly listed tele­phone lines and a mo­bile phone num­ber for the com­pany’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive rang unan­swered on Fri­day. The com­pany’s web­sites could not be opened.

State me­dia re­ports said the ac­ci­dent oc­curred dur­ing a change of work shifts, pos­si­bly ac­count­ing for the high death toll. Work­ers had also been toil­ing around-the-clock in three shifts to make progress on the project ahead of the ar­rival of bit­ter win­ter weather, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia in­ter­views with sur­viv­ing em­ploy­ees.

The 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plant had been des­ig­nated a pri­or­ity project by the prov­ince, likely adding to the pres­sure on work­ers. The deadly ac­ci­dent has taken on added po­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in re­cent days af­ter Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping urged lo­cal govern­ments to hold those re­spon­si­ble ac­count­able and the State Coun­cil es­tab­lished a spe­cial com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate. — Agen­cies

FENGCHENG: Dor­mi­to­ries used by con­struc­tion work­ers who were killed when a plat­form col­lapsed at a power sta­tion are seen near the power sta­tion in Fengcheng in China’s Jiangxi prov­ince yes­ter­day. — AFP

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