Chinese alarm after second gym collapse in Heilongjiang province kills three

Chinese alarm after second gym collapse in Heilongjiang province kills three

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Chinese people have expressed alarm online after another gymnasium collapsed in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, the second in months.

The cave-in on Monday night killed three people and came after days of unseasonably cold weather and snowfall.

The victims’ details are still to be disclosed but children were reported to be inside the gym at the time.

Video online showed rescuers scrabbling through snow-covered concrete rubble on a basketball court to find survivors.

Another video shared widely on Chinese social media showed a woman in an icy street, running towards the building while yelling: “My son! My son is in there.”

On Tuesday, authorities confirmed three were killed and one seriously injured inside the Yuecheng Gym Stadium in Jiamusi city.
Authorities said they had detained a person in charge of the gym- and gave no further details. It’s yet unclear what caused the second-floor collapse.

As news of the disaster spread online, many drew immediate comparisons with another gymnasium collapse in the province earlier this year which killed 11 people.

In July, the concrete roof of a school gymnasium in Qiqihar city collapsed after days of heavy rain.

Authorities said the roof had been weighed down by construction materials left by contractors, and conducted checks of other buildings in the area after the tragedy.

But on Tuesday, alarmed citizens were calling for answers – with the Jiamusi disaster top-trending on Weibo, where it has drawn more than 1.3 billion views.

“The collapse of the stadium in Qiqihar was not a long time ago, and there were checks everywhere after that – what did the checks do? This is an apparent man-made disaster,” wrote one user in a comment that drew more than 9,000 likes.

“Heilongjiang again, stadium again. Crappy quality, murderer project,” another user wrote.

Authorities have not said in the immediate aftermath if the Yuecheng Gym Stadium was subject to checks after the July incident. However, a BBC check of the county authorities’ WeChat account showed a post stating officials had conducted a safety check on the stadium in July.

Online, locals have called for authorities to take further action including more inspections of large public facilities in the province.

“Hope the authorities can be responsible, check on these stadiums and avoid other tragedies as soon as possible,” one comment read.

Heilongjiang is China’s northernmost-province and is in the part of the country’s north-east which has been battling a sudden cold snap in recent days.

Residents are enduring blizzard conditions that have forced school closures and dozens of flight and train cancellations. Authorities have advised locals to stay indoors under severe weather warnings.

State media reported that more blizzard conditions are expected in Heilongjiang, and warned of icy roads and downed power lines.

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