A tragic incident occurred in the industrial province of Heilongjiang, China, where a gymnasium collapsed, resulting in the death of at least 11 people, many of whom are believed to be children, according to eyewitness accounts reported in local media. As of now, only eight of the 19 people who were inside the gym at the time of the collapse have survived.
A preliminary investigation revealed that perlite, a form of volcanic glass, had been piled illegally on the gym’s roof, absorbing rainwater and leading to the structural failure at around 15:00 local time (07:00 GMT). Rescue efforts began immediately, with the coach of the middle school’s girls’ volleyball team calling out the students’ names as rescue teams worked to find survivors amidst the rubble.
Distraught parents gathered at a nearby hospital seeking updates on their children’s condition, expressing anguish and frustration at the lack of proper communication from school officials regarding the rescue efforts, which continued into Monday morning.
One parent shared a heart-wrenching video on social media, expressing concern about the fate of his daughter and the difficulty in identifying the victims due to their faces being covered with mud and blood. The lack of information from authorities only added to the distress of the families, who sought mental preparation for dealing with the tragic situation.
Construction accidents are not uncommon in China and have often been attributed to lax safety standards and insufficient enforcement. In June, a blast at a barbecue restaurant in north-west China claimed the lives of at least 31 people, resulting from an employee replacing a broken valve on a liquefied gas tank. In another incident in April, a fire at a Beijing hospital led to the deaths of 29 people, with some survivors resorting to desperate measures like jumping out of windows to escape.