Thursday, August 6, 2009

Train Wreck

No, the title of this post isn't about my bachelor party. That went really well. As one of my friends reminded me yesterday, "what happens on the stag do stays on the stag do." So I'm not going to give away too much information. I'll just say that it involved copious amounts of baijiu, good times with friends, and me feeling absolutely wrecked the next day. So it was a complete success!

Yesterday while suffering a day-long hangover, I heard from a friend about a section of Xi'an's under-construction subway that collapsed this week and killed two construction workers. I hadn't caught this initially.


Firefighters used bare hands to retrieve two migrant workers trapped after a section of a subway station under construction in Xi'an collapsed on Sunday morning.

The two, who had been buried under 10 cubic meters of earth for over three hours, died later in hospital.

The accident occurred at 9:20am at the Sajinqiao section of subway line one, where an area over 20-meters-wide of the construction site gave way, trapping workers below.

China Railway NO.2 Engineering Group Co., Ltd., which is responsible for the section's construction, blamed continued rain and leaking sewage pipes for the collapse.

The cave-in became the fourth accident in subway construction in the capital city of northwest China's Shaanxi province in seven months, the Wenhui Daily reported.

A fire accident occurred at a line 2 construction site on December 30 last year. Luckily, the fire was extinguished one hour later and all 64 workers were evacuated safely.

Only 66 hours later, on January 2, another station on line 2 caught fire due to improper operation by workers. Then on May 26, a person suffered minor injuries from a fire during infrastructure work on line 1.

Following the third accident, the Xi'an Subway Construction Office, the department overseeing the subway projects, ordered the 21 construction companies to each hand in three million yuan as a production safety guarantee. The deposit will be confiscated if any further accidents occur due to negligence or other human factors from the construction and supervision parties.

However, the harsh measures and a series of penalties meted out apparently failed to stop more accidents.

Read On
This is really sad. Particularly because this is not new and there have been so many problems in the construction of this project.

Although I'm not a civil engineer, I found it troubling that rain is being given partial blame for the collapse of the tunnel. Is it just me, or does that seem pretty thin? It's not like it's monsoon season here.

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that every time it rains at all, ponds of water start showing up everywhere on Xi'an's streets. Seriously, if it rains mildly for an hour or two, a street near my work completely floods over. And I'm talking about a section of road that was just built last year!

I'm not sure what about occasional rains makes Xi'an's streets turn into rivers and tunnels to collapse, but it's pretty disconcerting. China, in the west, has a reputation for being a country full of engineers. I suppose this might be true, there are a lot of engineering graduates, but what good are engineers if the things they build are done so poorly?

Over my last few weeks in Xi'an, I will try my best to take some pictures the next time it rains. It really is amazing.


pug ster said...

Sounds like you can't wait to get out from Xian.

Mark said...

I wouldn't put it that way, Pugster. I'm excited to be leaving. But Xi'an is definitely my 中国的老家 and I'll always love the city. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up here for a significant period of time again in the future.

This case of the guys getting trapped is terrible. And it appears to me as if the cause is systemic. That's why I wanted to talk about this.

But it's funny you put it this way, Pugster. Often when I read your comments on here or on The Peking Duck, I wonder the same thing about you: When are you going to come back to China to live?

It seems like you can't wait to get out of the United States. You never have anything positive to say about America and are always defending China. Yet you left China to live in America.

I'm not trying to be ass here. I'm just curious about when you're moving back to China. And if you aren't, why aren't you?