Ceilings of 16 bus stations could not withstand weight of heavy snowfall
Authorities in Hefei, Anhui province, have launched an investigation into how the ceilings of 16 bus stations collapsed, killing one person and injuring 27 others on Thursday.
The accidents happened after a heavy snow had swept the city since Wednesday afternoon. The stations are all located along Wangjiang road, according to a release by the Hefei municipal government on Friday afternoon.
They are all island-type stations located in the middle of the road instead of at the two sides, a design believed to be more efficient for public transport.
Previous media reports show that 30 stations along the road were put into use at the end of 2016. Public bidding information said the project could cost 15 million yuan (.3 million), though the bid was later won by Anhui Chuangyu Construction Engineering, a local company, for 7.1 million yuan in May 2016.
Five months later the company was criticized by the Hefei Key Project Construction Administration Bureau, which said "the company had been sluggish and the progress of construction had been slower than contracted".
The person killed was a 63-year-old woman waiting to take a bus to her job at a restaurant.
"A stranger called me with my wife's cell phone saying that the ceiling collapsed and hit her," said the dead woman's husband, surnamed Chen.
"A doctor from a nearby small clinic was rescuing her, while the ambulance was not able to arrive immediately due to a traffic jam," said Chen, whose wife died later in the ambulance.
Two people were severely hurt, but their injuries are no longer life-threatening, according to the government.
The investigation team formed by the city's urban and rural construction commission includes experts in design, construction and steel structures, according to Friday's release.
"If there were any illegal practices concerning the project's construction, those accountable will be severely punished," the release said.
"All of the 30 stations have been cordoned off to prevent any more injuries and all the bus stations in the whole city will be checked to make sure they are safe," said the release.
An employee surnamed Zhang with the Hefei bus company said bus company workers had been sent to guide passengers to buses in other areas and prevent people from entering the collapsed areas.