Three dead, eight injured in Shenzhen as awning collapses outside bank during downpour

Woman recalls how friend, buried in rubble, phoned for help but could not be saved

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 3:40am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 3:40am

Three people died and eight others were injured in Shenzhen yesterday morning when a 20-metre-long awning of a local bank collapsed amid rain from Super Typhoon Rammasun.

The accident happened at about 11.30am as 30 people sheltered beneath the structure, outside the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Luohu district, witnesses said.

By 3pm, three of the 11 people buried were reported dead. The eight survivors were sent to three hospitals, according to the district government. Three were in critical condition.

Authorities are continuing their investigation, and it remains unclear whether rain or wind played a role in the collapse.

A witness whose 26-year-old friend, Tang Jianfei, died said it happened too suddenly for people to escape.

"It was raining so hard. We were taking shelter from the rain under the awning," the woman said. "I went to stand in front of an ATM as it was too crowded … suddenly it collapsed.

"Jianfei even telephoned me and asked for help as soon as it collapsed. He told me he was buried and needed help.

"I called him back but he never answered the phone. It's too horrible to see your friend buried and die like that."

Following the heavy rain, the Guangdong provincial authorities have launched their highest level of emergency response. Construction projects, schools and businesses have been suspended in the cities of Maoming and neighbouring Zhanjiang .

At least 36 trains had been cancelled from Thursday to tomorrow in Guangxi , which borders Guangdong.

High-speed train services between the regional capital Nanning and coastal cities were suspended, the city's railway bureau said.