Building accident kills two in capital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 October, 2003, 12:00am

Migrant workers and sub-standard conditions are blamed for trend

Two workers were killed yesterday when an iron shelf collapsed in a partly built Beijing subway station. Two more workmen were injured and are in stable condition in hospital.

The accident near Chongwenmen was the latest in a series of industrial accidents.

The China Railway Tunnel Group, the construction firm responsible for building Beijing city subway Line 5, declined to comment on the accident.

City planners say Line 5 will be a north-south line that connects the subway system with the main Olympic stadiums and gymnasiums. Construction began at the end of last year and Line 5 should be operational by 2006. Total investment in the project stands at nearly 12 billion yuan (HK$11.2 billion).

A spokesman with the Beijing municipal bureau of work safety said it had sent officials to the construction site and an investigation was under way.

According to figures from the Ministry of Construction, there were 582 fatalities from 519 construction-related accidents in the first half of the year, up 20.7 per cent on the same period last year.

Ma Rui, an official with the State Administration of Work Safety, said he was worried about the health and safety of construction workers.

'We expect a new law this month to reduce the number of construction accidents and improve safety conditions for construction workers,' he said.

'However, many firms employ migrant labourers - who know very little about work safety - and then do not train them.'

In Guangdong, more than 80 per cent of construction workers are migrant labourers from rural areas. Not only are they untrained and working in unsafe conditions, they also build low-quality structures, another safety hazard.

The Beijing subway accident was reminiscent of the collapse of a half-built subway tunnel under the Huangpu river in Shanghai in the summer.