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51 found accountable in gym roof collapse

By ZHOU HUIYING in Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-22 08:58
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Fifty-one people, including 33 government officials, have been held accountable for a gymnasium collapse in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang province, in July, according to a report released recently by the provincial department of emergency management.

The report said the accident was caused by illegal and unauthorized construction and renovation.

It said the improper stacking of perlite, an insulation material, led to rainwater retention and resulted in a significant increase in the load on the gymnasium roof that exceeded its carrying capacity, causing a collapse.

The accident at No 34 Middle School, in the city's Longsha district, on July 23, killed 11 people and injured seven, the report said. It led to direct economic losses of 12.5 million yuan ($1.75 million).

At the time of the accident, 17 members of the school volleyball team and two coaches were training. Fifteen of them were trapped and four others managed to escape following the collapse.

The gymnasium, built in 1997, covered around 1,200 square meters.

After the accident, the local government set up an investigation team led by the provincial emergency management department, and a group of experts was invited to participate.

The report also listed indirect causes: the construction and supervisory units that failed to fulfill their primary responsibility for quality and safety production; as well as the industry regulatory department that did not adequately fulfill its responsibilities.

The construction unit started construction without obtaining permits and conducted false completion inspections.

During construction, there were no safety management personnel on duty and the project manager did not have professional qualifications.

The construction unit illegally subcontracted the project to individuals without qualifications, who did not follow the design drawings for construction and lowered the engineering quality standards.

The number of on-site supervisory personnel did not meet the needs of the work and they failed to stop illegal and irregular behaviors of the construction unit.

Six staff members from the construction and supervisory unit have been subjected to mandatory actions by the judicial authorities, and five others have been referred to the judicial authorities for further processing.

The 33 government officials have been subjected to different disciplinary actions, including serious warnings within the Party, dismissal from government positions, and downgrading of professional and technical ranks.

Seven have been handed administrative penalties, such as fines and revocation of their safety production qualification certificates.

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