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Waste firm's staff nabbed for China landslide

'UNSAFE' DUMP: An aerial view taken yesterday, showing the scale of the landslide. The Shenzhen government had warned that the Hongao dump site was unsafe. Dump operators tended to pile up waste steeply to make the greatest use of a limited area. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY


    Dec 23, 2015

    Waste firm's staff nabbed for China landslide


    CHINESE police yesterday took into custody the deputy director of the company at the centre of the mudslide disaster in Shenzhen city that left an industrial park buried and 76 people missing, local media reported.

    The man was taken away from one of Yixianglong's two offices in Shenzhen - both of which were raided by the police and were almost vacant if not for a few employees left to act as watchmen, the Tencent news portal reported.

    One body, the first, was recovered yesterday from the rubble at the Hengtaiyu Industrial Park, where 33 buildings remained buried in the giant deluge of mud and construction waste that tumbled on Sunday from the overfull neighbouring Hongao dump site.

    The dump was situated a few hundred metres from the industrial park and a village, and was supposed to be able to take 8 million sq m of construction waste over a span of 10 years, the South China Morning Post reported.

    The waste it took mostly came from construction projects in Shenzhen's Guangming district, where the park is located.

    According to China's National Business Daily, Yixianglong took over the management of the dump in 2013 from Guangdong-based Luwei Property Management Company at a price of 750,000 yuan (S$163,000).

    However, Luwei, which is engaged in many kinds of estate management, successfully bid for the Hongao project only early last year, which it then handed over to Yixianglong, said the newspaper.

    Their agreement stipulated that Yixianglong would be solely responsible for the project's financial gains or losses and any major work safety accidents.

    Logisitics management is not part of Yixianglong's business, according to the description it registered with the government, reported Reuters.

    "The transfer might not be legal. But that has to be verified with the bid inviter, which apparently is the Shenzhen government," lawyer Xu Xihua told National Business Daily.

    The Shenzhen government had earlier warned that the dump site, which was supposed to be temporary, was unsafe.

    Chinese dump operators tended to pile up waste steeply to make the greatest use of a limited area, a professor from Shanghai's Tongji University who declined to be named told South China Morning Post.

    The expert on waste management said there were no national standards for handling construction waste in China, so safety awareness was essential.

    Meanwhile, thousands of workers used sensors, drones and earth excavators at the 380,000 sq m disaster site, trying to reach possible survivors trapped under mud up to 10m deep.

    According to reports, the buildings buried include 14 factory plants, two offices, a canteen, three domitories and another 13 low-rise ones.

    Engulfed too were many shanty houses occupied by migrants who had come to make a living from waste collection.

    One man from central China's Henan province, who had set up a waste sorting plant near the dump, had returned from his daily waste collecting round to find his home buried.

    Eleven members of his family, including his parents, wife, children and sister, were nowhere to be found, reported the Beijing Times.