Dumpsite head taken for probe of landslide

By Chen Heying and Wu Gang Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-23 0:43:02

Shenzhen quarry suspected of being illegally used as waste dumpsite

Rescuers search for survivors near damaged buildings following a landslide at an industrial park in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, on Tuesday. Authorities blamed an enormous, man-made mountain of soil and waste for the disaster that left 76 people missing. Photo: AP

Authorities reportedly stormed the office of the company handling the Shenzhen dumpsite on Tuesday as an investigation continues into the cause of a landslide that has left 76 missing.

The first body, an unidentified man, was found on Tuesday morning amid the ruins of buildings crushed by mud and construction waste that collapsed from the nearby dumpsite in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province on Sunday.

The number of missing was initially reported to be 91, but 15 of them have been found [in safe condition], according to Vice Mayor Liu Qingsheng.

Police stormed the office of Shenzhen Yixianglong Investment Development, confiscating a computer and documents, and taking away Yu Shengli, a deputy head of the company that managed the dumpsite, reported the China National Radio.

Safety should be the first priority in China's city development and management, according to a statement on Tuesday following the two-day Central Urban Work Conference attended by President Xi Jinping and other top Party leaders.

Safety awareness should permeate every aspect of urban work, the statement said.

Hours after the landslide, Premier Li Keqiang ordered a swift response to the disaster, and to determine the cause of the tragedy.

Geological specialists of the Ministry of Land Resources have concluded that the disaster was caused by the collapse of the man-made construction waste, and not by the landslide from the hill itself. 

Breach of contract

Media reports said that the dumpsite involved suspicious business deals and possible breach of regulations.

According to a report of the Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday, a quarry at Hong'ao village was approved in February 2014 by the local government as a temporary storage site for construction waste.

The contract permitted the use of the site till February 21, 2015. But the site was apparently still used for at least 10 months after the permitted period. 

Ten months of operations means hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of waste was dumped at the site, forming a huge mountain of soil, an anonymous source told Xinhua.

Yixianglong might have made 7.5 million yuan ($1.2 million) out of the prolonged use of the dumping site, the report said.

The report also said the company was likely to have illegally obtained the right to use the Hong'ao site from the first contractor, Shenzhen Lvwei Property Management, which won the bid from the local government in August 2013.

According to the bidding regulations, a contractor is not allowed to subcontract a project. 

Recurring nightmare

Authorities published the names of 73 of the missing people on Tuesday, while the identity of the other three remained unclear.

Local residents who narrowly escaped the disaster still cannot believe their loved ones had not been able to make it.

"I have had nightmares about my wife crying to me for help in the past two days," a migrant worker, 53, told the Global Times at the Guangming People's Hospital on Tuesday.

"My wife was cooking lunch when the landslide hit," the man said. "I felt something wrong when the power was cut off, and went out to check. I saw the earth coming down."

He asked his wife to run out of the building while spontaneously trying to escape, but she did not respond. He managed to escape only with two of his fellow workers.

He believes his wife was still alive, and repeatedly insisted he could show the rescuers her location.

More than 4,000 rescuers had joined the rescue efforts as of Tuesday morning, authorities said. Sixteen locations where buildings were buried have been listed as key excavation areas, according to Liu.

Some 900 people have been evacuated. Sixteen people were hospitalized, all with minor injuries, according to the Guangdong provincial health authorities.  

Xinhua contributed to this story

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