North China’s Shanxi Province probes restaurant collapse after 29 died
Shanxi Province probes restaurant collapse after 29 died
Published: Aug 30, 2020 12:45 PM

Photo taken on Aug. 29, 2020 shows the rescue site of the collapsed restaurant in Xiangfen County of Linfen City, north China's Shanxi Province.Photo:Xinhua

The government of North China's Shanxi Province on Sunday has dispatched a special team to investigate the collapse of a restaurant on Saturday which killed 29 people and injured dozens more, some seriously.

The death toll from the collapse in Xiangfen county, Linfen city has risen to 29 with seven seriously injured and 21 slightly injured. An operation to rescue those trapped in the restaurant finished early Sunday morning. Including the deceased, 57 people were pulled from the wreckage, local authorities said.   

The reason for the collapse is not yet known.

An official from the county's housing security and urban and rural construction bureau told the Shanghai-based media outlet The Paper on Sunday that investigations are underway into whether the restaurant was illegally constructed.

A merchant near the restaurant told news portal The Paper that it had been open for more than 10 years, and the building had been pieced together and built in three or four stages. 

A local villager, who lives near the restaurant, told the Global Times on Sunday that a banquet was being held in the two-story restaurant to celebrate the 80th birthday of a local senior resident surnamed Li when the tragedy took place. The collapse began on the first floor. 

The banquet included a Chinese opera performance, and many villagers were enjoying the show when the tragedy took place, said the villager. He said that Li was greeting guests and performers outside the restaurant and therefore survived, however, his wife was among the deceased. 

Li kneeled down to apologize, saying he felt guilty for the accident, according to a video posted by the Dazhong News on Sina Weibo.

Chinese netizens on social media platforms also paid tribute, saying that it was sad a happy event had turned into one of mourning.  

The investigation team comprises of staff from Shanxi's Department of Emergency Management, the provincial public security, housing and urban-rural development departments, government of Linfen which administrates Xiangfen county and other related authorities, China Emergency Management News reported Sunday. 

Authorities vowed to find the cause and the nature of the accident as soon as possible, and said whoever is found responsible shall be pursued in accordance with the law, according to the report.

The State Council, China's cabinet, said it would supervise the investigation into the accident on Saturday, urging the Shanxi provincial government to learn lessons from the tragedy and make the safety of people's lives its utmost priority. It also urged safety in production and development in order to prevent major fatal accidents in the future.