Death toll rises to 26 in central China building collapse

State media reports a tenth survivor has been pulled from the rubble nearly a week after incident in Changsha.

Rescue workers are seen carrying a survivor at the site of the building's collapse in Changsha
At least nine people have been arrested in connection with the collapse of the building on suspicion of ignoring building codes and other violations [Cnsphoto via Reuters]

The death toll from the collapse of a building in central China last week has risen to 26, according to state media reports.

Ten people have been pulled alive from the building’s rubble as of Friday morning local time, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.

An unknown number of people are still thought to be missing following the incident in the city of Changsha, Hunan province, on April 29.

Thursday’s updated death toll came after emergency workers pulled a woman alive from the site overnight – the tenth person to be rescued so far. The woman was conscious and had been capable of advising rescuers on how to remove her from the rubble without causing further injury, Xinhua reported.

Intermittent rain showers in recent days may have increased the chances of survival for those buried without food or water supplies for almost a week. The survivors are reportedly recovering from their injuries in hospital.

At least nine people have been arrested in connection with the collapse of the building, which Xinhua described as “self-built”, on suspicion of ignoring building codes and other violations.

Those arrested include three people in charge of design and construction and five people who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house situated on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

Rise in collapses in recent years

An increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to call last month for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for such disasters.

China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipe infrastructure that has led to explosions and collapses.

Earlier this year, at least 16 people died when an explosion suspected to have been caused by a gas leak brought down a building in the city of Chongquing, in Sichuan province.

The incident in January came seven months after 25 people were killed when a gas explosion rocked a residential area in the city of Shiyan, in Hubei province.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies