China has experienced a lot of disaster in the past year. Some of that disaster has been natural, but some had been of the man-made variety.
On December 20, a landslide buried the southern city of Shenzhen with red mud and debris. That landslide was not purely natural, however, and arrests are finally being made.
Shenzhen is a significant part of China. The Washington Post describes it as “the location of the first of the special economic zones that eventually turned the nation into the low-cost manufacturing floor of the globe.”
The city has created an unimaginable amount of jobs for the Chinese population and has even built dorms where travelling employees can reside in order to make their commute shorter.
When the landslide occurred, Shenzhen was covered in mud and debris from the landfill located on the outskirts of the city. It was there that the landslide originated.
That landfill opened in 2013 in an effort to take in the construction waste caused by reinventing Shenzhen into the city it was trying to become: a hub of technology. Trucks employed by the owners of the landfill were paid by the load and that led to unloading more and more debris that built up into a dangerous pile.
The landslide could have easily been avoided if officials had listened to warnings they received on December 16. A local environmental monitoring firm foresaw a possible disaster, like a landslide, from the growing pile of debris and warned officials that they should suspend operations to the landfill.
The notification that officials received about the risks was ignored.
It was only four days later that the landslide occurred after some heavy rain and buried a portion of Shenzhen.
The landslide affected 33 buildings, reducing the architecture to rubble in seconds. As the landslide struck, a portion of the pipeline responsible for transporting natural gas exploded, causing an even more deadly disaster for residents.
Some of the terrifying effects of the landslide were documented by residents with camera phones.
Disclaimer: Video may be too shocking for some viewers.
Almost 75 people have been declared missing or dead as a direct result of the landslide. Approximately 1,500 rescue workers have been searching the area of the landslide nonstop in hopes of finding the missing people. That figure is according to a report posted by the Guangming New District government on China’s version of a Twitter and Facebook hybrid, Sina Weibo.
Authorities have finally arranged the arrests of 11 people thought to be responsible for the devastating landslide. Among the landslide arrests were the chief and deputy manager employed by the company that is responsible for the landfill, dispatcher and supervisor of the landfill, as well as seven others.
Although the arrests were made, they did not come soon enough for an official that belonged to the district where the landslide occurred. That man, only referred to as Xu by the media, was responsible for regulating business and construction sites. He killed himself by jumping from a building just a week after the landslide happened. People have speculated that the disaster was the reason for his deadly action.
The 11 people taken in by the arrests were charged with negligence and causing a serious accident.
“Officials have labeled the landslide a man-made disaster,” the Associated Press reported. “Raising the possibility of harsh penalties for those held responsible.”
The authorities are being encouraged to find and charge anyone else that might be responsible for the negligence that caused the landslide.
[Photo by AP Photo/Andy Wong]