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China Factory Collapse Kills 12

More than 50 people were in the four-story shoe factory in the city of Wenling when it came down on Saturday.

BEIJING - Twelve people died after a shoe factory collapsed in eastern China, state media reported Sunday, with more than 40 escaping on their own or being rescued.

More than 50 people were in the four-story building in the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province when it came down on Saturday afternoon, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Thirty-three suffered injuries, four of them serious, the report said. Nine others escaped unharmed, it added.

The cause of the collapse was being investigated.

"There was no premonition," the report quoted worker Yang Zhongkun as saying. "I heard a 'bang' and saw the building collapse." 

Yang added that water flowed down from a large fishing pool on the roof of the building, while other employees said leaking water was reported before the building gave way, Xinhua said.

A total of 53 fire trucks, 302 rescuers and five rescue dogs responded to the collapse, the report said.

Photos circulating on Chinese social media showed a man being carried on a stretcher by what appeared to be police officers, while rescuers and other personnel stood on top of the rubble.

Building collapses and other industrial accidents are not uncommon in China, where many structures and facilities are old, safety procedures can be lax and rebuilding has not kept up with the country's remarkable economic growth.

China's top safety watchdog in May blamed poor construction and weak safety standards for a fire at a nursing home that left 38 people dead.

In April, almost 30,000 people were evacuated after a fire broke out in a Chinese chemical plant which blazed for nearly 50 hours before the flames were finally extinguished.

And in November, a fire at a coal mine in northeastern China killed 26 workers, in one of the country's most highly accident-prone industries.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

TAGS: The Economy
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