The latest incident in a country where industrial accidents are common, a platform in an unfinished power plant cooling tower collapsed killing at least 40 people in eastern China’s Jiangxi province.
An unknown number of people were remain trapped under the wreckage after the platform collapsed in Fengcheng at 7am local time. Rescuers are on the site.
There were 68 workers on the scaffolding at the time of the accident, local media reported.
Television footage and photographs from the site showed iron pipes and wooden planks strewn, a grey mass of concrete slabs, steel girders and twisted metal splayed across the floor of the massive concrete cooling tower.
A total of 32 fire engines and 212 military personnel had been deployed to the scene. Rescue work is under way. Hard-hatted rescue workers in neon jumpsuits carried bodies out from the site on stretchers wrapped in orange sheeting.
The death toll was likely to rise because a number of people were still trapped. Five injured workers were sent to hospital.
The construction of two 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power units of a $1.1bn coal-fired power plant at the Ganneng Fengcheng power station began last July and were expected to be completed by early 2018, the local Yichun city government said last year.
China’s leaders have vowed to improve work safety, but industrial accidents remain common with the country’s mining sector notorious for its high fatality rate. The anger over lax standards is growing.
Three decades of swift economic growth have been marred by incidents ranging from mining disasters to factory fires.
In the late 1990s mining deaths numbered as high as 20 per day, before falling to about 1,000 a year recently.
At least 21 killed after a pipeline explosion in August at a coal-fired power plant in the neighboring province of Hubei.
More than 130 people were taken to hospital, earlier this summer, after chemicals leaked from a plant in eastern China.
In April, a chemical fire burned for 16 hours in the coastal province of Jiangsu after an explosion at a facility storing chemicals and fuel, requiring 400 fire fighters to quell the flames.
In one of the worst disaster in recent years, when improperly-stored chemicals exploded at a logistics warehouse last year, more than 170 people were killed in the port city of Tianjin.