Hospital subsidence - hundreds moved

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2012, 12:00am


Two Shenzhen hospital buildings housing more than 600 patients and medical staff were evacuated on Friday after construction work on a new ward shook their foundations.

In all, 246 patients and about 400 staff were transferred from two of the three buildings of the Shenzhen Xili People's Hospital in Nanshan district at around noon.

There were no obvious signs of damage to the main structures of the hospital buildings yesterday. But local newspapers said there were cracks in the walls and surface tiles had fallen off.

The authorities are investigating what happened.

Local media said the construction of a new hospital building nearby might have damaged underground pipes, causing water to leak and soil to subside.

A Shenzhen surveyor told the Sunday Morning Post yesterday that specialists were measuring 'levels of building subsidence'.

Dozens of security guards have been stationed at the hospital entrances and at a pedestrian crossing leading to the hospital.

Trucks laden with sandbags were heading to the site, but workers would not comment on progress on stabilising the buildings.

Resident patients from the two affected buildings have been moved to three other hospitals in Nanshan, a local government notice said.

Non-resident patients have been directed to another of the hospital's buildings and a community health centre, with nurses distributing flyers about the new arrangements.

Visitor Xie Pengdong said his younger brother was in the hospital recovering from a broken leg when he had to be moved to the nearby Nanshan Hospital by ambulance.

'We were told by nurses who were pushing patients on beds to leave the building at around 1.30pm,' Xie said.

'We didn't feel anything. It was an accident and no one saw it coming. I'm glad that we were notified early before anything serious happened.'

Xie said the evacuation seemed to be orderly and was completed in about half an hour.

However, a woman orthopaedic patient said the evacuation had occurred in such a rush that she had no time to pack her belongings.

'It was a little bit messy but it was fortunate that no one was hurt during the evacuation,' a relative of hers said.

A heavily pregnant woman said she was among the first group of patients to be moved to Nanshan Hospital.

'The transfer was smooth. Five other mothers and I, along with a two-day-old baby and a doctor were the first batch to be taken away. The nurses visited us today and even brought us lunch,' she said.

The Nanshan district government and the Shenzhen Xili hospital could not be reached for comment. Local media reports say it is unclear how long it will take the hospital to resume normal operations.

A microblogger going by the name of 'translationstory' questioned whether the Shenzhen Xili hospital was another example of 'tofu' construction, a term former premier Zhu Rongji coined to describe poorly built infrastructure.