News / World

China punishes 31 for deadly construction accident

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2016, file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, rescue workers look for survivors after a work platform collapsed at the Fengcheng power plant in eastern China's Jiangxi Province. China has ordered 31 people to be placed under "coercive measures" for a collapse last year at a construction site that killed 73 people, the state news agency reported Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Wan Xiang/Xinhua via AP, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2016, file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, rescue workers look for survivors after a work platform collapsed at the Fengcheng power plant in eastern China's Jiangxi Province. China has ordered 31 people to be placed under "coercive measures" for a collapse last year at a construction site that killed 73 people, the state news agency reported Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Wan Xiang/Xinhua via AP, File)

BEIJING — China has ordered 31 people to be placed under "coercive measures" for a collapse last year at a construction site that killed 73 people, the state news agency reported Saturday.

Coercive measures are a form of detention that can range from constant surveillance to outright arrest. It is often used against people accused of endangering national security.

The punishment follows the collapse in November 2016 of a platform being built for a cooling tower at a power plant in southern China, killing 73 people, injuring two more and causing losses of $15.6 million. A government report says investigators concluded that the accident was caused by a range of issues, including poor supervision "and the building company's failure to fulfil its work safety responsibilities," the Xinhua news agency said.

The names and job positions of those punished were not given, nor was the company's name.

In a separate incident Saturday, rescuers successfully pulled nine construction workers from the rubble of a collapsed railway tunnel in the country's southwest, two days after the tunnel collapsed around them.

Xinhua said the nine had been hospitalized in stable condition.

The accident occurred in a mountainous area in Yunnan province, near the borders with Myanmar and Laos. Rescuers were able to make contact with the men Friday, confirm all had survived and get food to them.

More than 200 workers were involved in the rescue, digging a string of tunnels in efforts to reach the men.

China has a long history of deadly construction accidents, sometimes caused by workers cutting corners as they rush to meet deadlines.

But pressure has ratcheted up in recent years for better regulations, safety training and equipment. While 19,783 people died in Chinese industrial accidents in the first seven months of 2017, according to the State Administration of Work Safety, that was down almost 17 per cent compared to the same period in 2016.

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