The Associated Press
Rescuers search for potential survivors near damaged buildings following a landslide at an industrial park in Shenzhen, in south China’s Guangdong province, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. Authorities blamed an enormous, man-made mountain of soil and waste for the collapse of nearly three dozen buildings that left 81 people missing in southern China’s most prominent manufacturing city. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Questions mounted Tuesday about why leaders in southern China’s most prominent manufacturing city didn’t act to prevent the collapse of a mountain of construction waste that left 76 people missing.
Also Tuesday, rescuers recovered a man’s body in the first confirmed death from Sunday’s mudslide at the construction dump site in Shenzhen.
Still missing are 51 men and 25 women, Vice Mayor Liu Qingsheng told a news conference. He said the number had fallen as some people initially unaccounted for had gradually turned up.
The Ministry of Land and Resources has said a steep man-made mountain of dirt, cement chunks and other construction waste had been piled up against a 100-meter (330-foot) -high hill over the past two years.
Heavy rains saturated the soil, making it heavy and unstable, and ultimately causing it to collapse with massive force in and around an industrial park.
State media reported that the New Guangming District government identified problems with the mountain of soil months earlier.
The Legal Evening News said a district government report in January found that the dump had received 1 million cubic meters of waste and warned of a “catastrophe.”
Under pressure from the media, officials allowed about 30 journalists, mostly from foreign outlets, to approach an edge of the disaster area. Flanked by police, reporters could observe military posts with computers and disease control stations set up for the rescue workers.
At the beginning of the news conference, Liu and other officials bowed to express their condolences for the victim that had been found.
No questions from reporters were allowed.
Before Shenzhen Landslide, Many Saw Warning Signs as Debris Swelled
Shenzhen: Rescuers search for survivors amongst collapsed buildings after a landslide in Shenzhen, in south China’s Guangdong province, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. (Color China Photo via AP)
The New York Times
SHENZHEN, China — As the mountain of earth grew, so did the warnings.
The construction waste dump on the outskirts of Shenzhen was prone to dangerous erosion, an environmental impact report said. The city’s expanding piles of building waste presented a “crisis,” a Shenzhen newspaper wrote. Even truck drivers who dumped tons of construction debris and displaced earth there each day recalled a pang of anxiety as they watched the dumpsite swell.
But the alarms got little attention until the accumulation of building waste collapsed here, burying homes and factories, and forcing Chinese officials, investigators, journalists and families waiting for news of the 76 still missing to ask: If so many saw the risks, why was nothing done?
“Everyone seems to have some of the responsibility,” said Liang Jianping, a migrant worker in Shenzhen who was hoping for word of his missing cousin, a worker in a factory near where the disaster struck on Sunday.
“The officials, the companies, the truck drivers, they were all here, they saw what was happening,” Mr. Liang said. “But there were no safety assurances. Everyone should share some of the blame, I think.”
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Credit Andy Wong/Associated Press