Chinese investigators blame building collapse that killed 54 on shoddy, illegal construction

BEIJING (AP) — The collapse of a nine-story building in central China that killed 54 people last year was caused by shoddy, illegal construction and local officials’ failure to enforce standards, according to an official report released Sunday.

At least nine people including the building owner were reported arrested following the April 2022 disaster in Changsha, which trapped survivors under rubble for up to five days. Nine people were injured.

The report by investigators appointed by the ruling Communist Party said the collapse of the “self-built” structure was due by “illegal and irregular construction” and additions by residents, according to state TV. It said local authorities were “not serious” about enforcing building rules and “shirked responsibility.”

The report gave no indication of possible punishment for the owner and local officials.

News reports at the time said the building had six stories, but Sunday’s report said more were added up to a partial ninth level. It said that extra weight overwhelmed the poorly built structure of the original five-story building.

China has suffered a series of collapses of structures built by owners in violation of safety rules or due to unauthorized addition of extra floors. That prompted Chinese leader Xi Jinping to order additional checks to find structural weaknesses.