Very early on Monday morning, a group of four ramshackle residential buildings collapsed in the outskirts of Wenzhou city, Zhejiang province. The death toll for the tragedy has now risen to 22, with six survivors pulled from the rubble alive, including one 3-year-old girl.
Chinese state media reports that the search for any more survivors is now “basically over.”
The cause of the collapses is under investigation. The four buildings that fell were all built in the 1970s by local residents and were described to be in an old and decrepit state. Over the years, the rooms were divided to accommodate more migrant families and extra floors were added to the top, making the buildings as much as six stories high.
Five more similar buildings nearby are being demolished to avoid another disaster.
At around 6:35 p.m., more than 14 hours after the collapse occurred, a 3-year-old girl was miraculously pulled out alive from the wreckage. Rescuers say that she survived because she had been shielded by the body of her father when their home collapsed in on them. The girl’s mother and father did not survive.
The New York Times reports that the girl’s parents had worked in a shoe factory in Wenzhou, while the girl herself mostly lived with her grandparents thousands of miles away.
Unfortunately, disasters like this are not uncommon in China, where shoddy construction is widespread, particularly in smaller cities. According to a report in Wenzhou Daily, a 2014 investigation determined that 1,400 buildings in the district where the collapsed occurred were dangerous and should be reinforced or demolished.
[Images via NetEase]