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3 dead, 2 injured trying to escape gym collapse

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying in Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-08 10:01
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A view of Yuecheng Sports Club on Tuesday in Huanan, Heilongjiang province. The roof of the club collapsed on Monday.  CHEN YICHEN/XINHUA

Three people have been confirmed dead and two injured after a gymnasium roof collapsed on Monday evening in Huanan county of Jiamusi, Heilongjiang province, the local government said on Tuesday.

The disciplinary inspection and supervision departments from Jiamusi and Huanan have set up a team to conduct an investigation, Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the local government, seven junior high school students were playing basketball at Yuecheng Sports Club on Monday evening when one student noticed something strange about the roof and ran toward the exit. Shortly after, the roof collapsed.

A rescue team was called to the site and completed its rescue operation after midnight.

Three students escaped by themselves, two of whom were uninjured. The injured student was sent to hospital for treatment. The other four remained trapped, one of whom was rescued at around 7:50 pm and sent to hospital for treatment.

The other three students were rescued but succumbed to their injuries at hospital shortly after.

Among the two hospitalized patients, one suffered a fractured fibula and minor facial abrasions, and the other had minor soft-tissue abrasions, with no life-threatening injuries.

The gymnasium had been built from July 2017 to July 2018, and had passed an inspection in 2020.

The collapsed area is a single-story section with an H-shaped steel beam roof structure.

From December last year, the gymnasium had been managed by a fitness club and was mainly used for basketball, table tennis, badminton and other sports.

The person in charge of the club has been taken into police custody, the local government said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Experts are providing psychological counseling to the injured and their families.

Weather authorities in both Huanan and Jiamusi issued red alerts for blizzards, the most severe warning in China's weather alert system, on Sunday. It is not clear if the snowfall contributed to the collapse.

On July 23, the ceiling of a gymnasium collapsed at a school in Heilongjiang's Qiqihar city, causing 11 deaths.

The next day, Cheng Xianfeng, head of the Huanan county government, toured key areas such as schools, sports venues, reservoirs, cultural markets and construction sites to inspect and rectify safety risks, including the gymnasium.

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