In China, inferior quality bricks blamed for quake deaths

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    In China, inferior quality bricks blamed for quake deaths

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    Nearly half of the deaths from last week's earthquake in southwest China's Yunnan province have been attributed to building collapses triggered by the use of bricks and construction material of inferior quality.
    The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Yunnan on Thursday left 25 people dead and 314 others injured.
    Three students and eight others were killed in building collapses triggered by the use of poor construction material, reported Caijing, a Beijing-based magazine.
    Two high school students, Qu Yonghuan and Li Jingrong, were killed when a school built with hollow bricks collapsed. Another death, that of 50 year-old Liu Yuhua, was also attributed to the collapse of a roof built with bricks of less quality, according to the magazine.
    The use of poor quality construction materials was widely exposed during the 2008 eight-magnitude earthquake that struck Sichuan province, killing at least 80,000 people.
    Some 7,000 schools - including many that were newly-built – collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake, leading to the deaths of at least 5,300 school children and triggering public outrage over shortcuts and corruption in the construction industry.
    The government subsequently promised an improvement in safety standards in the construction sector and to crackdown on builders who cut corners.
    The earthquake in Yunnan, a province with a history of high seismic-activity, has highlighted the prevalence of irregular construction practices and the persisting challenge of enforcing stricter standards, almost three years on after the Sichuan disaster.
    Following last week's earthquake in Yunnan, Yin Anqiang, an official at the housing and urban-rural development bureau, told Caijing “hollow bricks are no longer to be produced and used as house construction materials.”
    The official Global Times reported on Wednesday that a rebuilding project to boost the safety of structures built before 2008 covered only 60 per cent of buildings, “because villagers were reluctant to spend 10,000 yuan ($1,521) to fix them.”
    Reflection after Japan
    In the wake of the disaster in Japan, the safety of buildings in China, which also has a history of major natural disasters, has come under the spotlight. Japan's warning systems and strict safety requirements have been seen as possibly saving thousands of lives.
    In recent days, many Chinese Internet users have compared the Sichuan disaster with the events in Japan, focusing on the absence of warning systems and the poor quality of buildings in the latter case.
    “Tens of thousands of people died in Wenchuan, while 1,800 people have died in a bigger 8.9 earthquake in Japan,” wrote Meng Yi Jiang on Tianya, a popular portal. “We Chinese need to reflect on ourselves.”
    “In Wenchuan [a town near the epicentre of the Sichuan earthquake], many damaged houses were built with crooked workmanship and cheap materials,” wrote another blogger. “Even schools and hospitals were built poorly. In Japan, their buildings are safe.”
     
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