Rescuers have saved a 3-year-old girl who survived under the remains of collapsed homes in the arms of her dead parents, China's state media has said.
The young girl was found deep in the debris of four six-storey residential buildings more around 15 hours after they crumbled in the city of Wenzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, killing at least 22 people, state broadcaster CCTV said. The bodies of her mother and father protected Wu Ningxi from being struck by heavy objects.
CCTV said the child had only minor injuries, but her parents died after being struck on the back and head by a piece of cement floor. They were found with their arms around their daughter.
“We first found a young man. Then his wife and daughter were found as we were clearing the rubble,” firefighter Sun Jing told CCTV. “We found them tangled together, with mother and father facing down and the little girl between their bodies facing up.”
“The child was able to survive entirely thanks to the fact that her dad used his own flesh and blood to prop up a life-saving space for his daughter,” a rescuer told the China Youth Daily.
Photos showed rescuers lifting the girl's from the cement and fallen bricks, her hair matted with dust as they carried her out and placed her onto a stretcher.
The search through the three-storey-high debris concluded early on Tuesday, the Lucheng district government said, with 22 confirmed dead and only six survivors including the rescued girl.
The cause of the collapses in an industrial district on the outskirts of the city of Wenzhou is under investigation. Reports said the four buildings were built in the 1970s by their farmer owners and were in a highly degraded state. Extra floors had been added over the years, making them between three and five stories high and further weakening their structures.
Recent heavy rainfall combined with the poor quality of construction and age of the buildings, built by the villagers themselves, were probable contributing factors, CCTV cited a preliminary analysis as saying.
The official Xinhua News Agency said five adjacent houses that were still standing were being demolished “to avoid secondary disasters.”
Poor construction quality has long been a problem in China, particularly in the countryside and smaller cities.
Associated PressReuse content