Unknown Number of People Missing in Chinese Dam Collapse

August 10, 2012 9:17 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 12:38 pm
The Shenjiakeng reservoir in Zhangtu township, Daishan county, Zhoushan city, Zhejiang province collapsed at around 4 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, with stored water gushing and wiping out one third of the village. This was the scene at around 5 a.m. (Weibo.com)

A dam collapsed in eastern China early Friday morning after relentless rain pounded much of the country in the aftermath of Typhoon Haikui. Locals said dozens have died and hundreds remain missing.

The dam, which is part of the military’s Shenjiakeng reservoir in the city of Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province, broke at around 4 a.m. on Aug. 10, sending forth a massive wave of water that washed away dozens of buildings in Zhangtu township, located within Zhoushan city limits, villagers told The Epoch Times.

One third of the township was destroyed by the flood, the villagers said. Around 200 people have gone missing, according to villagers’ estimates, many more than have been reported by state media, which said that 10 people had died and 27 were injured.

Villager Ms. Wang told The Epoch Times that the dam’s collapse happened suddenly while everyone was still sleeping.

“Residents who were able to escape ran for their lives,” she said. “Those who failed to escape were killed–about thirty or forty [died] and dozens went missing.”

Ms. Wang added that many of the people who perished were elderly, and most of those who went missing are migrant workers, adding that rents in the township are inexpensive and many people from other parts of the country rented apartments there. She also commented about the slowness of rescue effort, saying, “it was much delayed.”

Another local resident, giving his name as Mr. Chen, said that the water from the dam washed away numerous buildings in the village. Besides the flood, the collapse also triggered mudslides, which buried numerous people. How many died is presently unknown, but they include many elderly and migrant workers, Chen said.

A resident going by “Qiu Xiaoqiu zero” uploaded a number of photos of the dam collapse and the surrounding damage on Sina Weibo, China’s microblogging website.

“When the local reservoir collapsed, a flood wiped out houses, and people have gone missing. But no one came to their rescue,” she said.

The area around the reservoir, which had a maximum capacity storage of 8,404,890 cubic feet according to state media, has been blocked off by officials, and reporters have been denied access to the area.

According to state-run media, the dam break was caused by heavy rainfall alone, but locals said the reservoir also had structural problems, which they had reported to local officials in the past.

Local Weibo users said the reservoir had not been maintained for years. The military contracted maintenance to the local governor, who in turn contracted it to a private water company.

Recent heavy rains have caused havoc in China. In July, Beijing experienced record-level floods, which killed dozens of people and caused severe property damage. Netizens pointed to poor city planning and infrastructure as contributing factors in the flood.

Earlier this week, a section of the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty around 500 years ago, collapsed in northern Hebei Province. Heavy rainfall was to blame for the collapse, according to state-run media. Other reports said construction projects in the area had weakened the wall.

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