Four of the disasters this year that have sparked outrage and prompted the government to pledge to improve industrial oversight and safety regulations.
BEIJING (AP) — China’s year of man-made disasters began on New Year’s Eve when 36 revelers were killed in a stampede in Shanghai. Nearly twelve months later, a mountain of excavated soil and construction waste collapsed into buildings at an industrial park in Shenzhen. Four of the disasters this year that have sparked outrage and prompted the government to pledge to improve industrial oversight and safety regulations:
— SHANGHAI STAMPEDE: About 30 minutes before midnight on Dec. 31, 2014, people were jostling to climb a viewing platform next to the Pu river on the scenic Bund promenade when the stampede started. The crush killed 36 people and injured 49, blemishing the image of China’s most prosperous and modern metropolis. Investigators found local police were unprepared to handle the size of the crowd, estimated at 300,000 people. The Communist Party boss, district police chief and a third local official in the Huangpu riverfront district were fired and disciplined for corruption.
— YANGTZE SINKING: The Eastern Star cruise ship capsized in severe winds on the Yangtze River, causing China’s worst shipwreck in more than 60 years. More than 440 people died in the June 1 disaster. Captain Zhang Shunwen was arrested after he was rescued from the river, with investigators looking into why he chose to sail into the storm instead of dropping anchor. A government agency in years prior had cited the ship for safety violations, but no one tied to the capsizing has been convicted of wrongdoing.
— TIANJIN EXPLOSIONS: A series of explosions at a chemical warehouse on Aug 12 leveled a swath of the port city of Tianjin, killing 173 and injuring nearly 800. Investigators found that a company, Ruihai Logistics, illegally had stored the combustible chemicals within 1 kilometer of a residential area. The Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog placed the administrator of China’s work safety regulator, Yang Dongliang, who had previously served as Tianjin vice mayor, under investigation, while a dozen people including executives at the warehousing company were arrested.
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— SHENZHEN LANDSLIDE: A mountain of excavated soil and construction waste toppled after being soaked by heavy rains, hitting buildings in an industrial park in Shenzhen on Dec 20. Dozens of people are missing, and an official microblog said survival possibilities in the collapsed buildings were small. Early official statements and local residents say builders for two years had been piling dirt, cement chunks and other construction waste onto a hill. Some residents have blamed government negligence for allowing the giant debris pile to build up, while questions have been raised about the weaknesses of the factories and dormitories that crumbled under the landslide.