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The bodies of all 14 workers Stuck when a tunnel under construction flooded last week week have been recovered, authorities in southern China said Thursday.
A brief statement on the Zhuhai city government’s social media site did not provide further information about the cause of the July 15 disaster or the deaths.
The Shijingshan Tunnel is part of a highway under construction that passes under a reservoir in the provincial city of Guangdong, close to Hong Kong and Macau.
The rescue involved divers, remote-controlled submarines and other high-tech equipment as surface workers rushed to pump water from the tunnel. Work was sometimes hampered by carbon monoxide fumes from machinery used in the tunnel as part of the operation.
While the cause remains unclear, reports said an abnormal noise was heard and bits of material fell from one side of the twin-tube tunnel. An evacuation was ordered as water rushed in, but the 14 who died were unable to escape in time.
The construction project had been shown to have safety issues for some time. In March, two workers died in another part of the tunnel.
Zhuhai is a relatively prosperous coastal city at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta, which is now heavily developed for manufacturing and high-tech industries.
It was one of China’s early special economic zones when the ruling Communist Party began opening up the country’s economy about 40 years ago.
Demands for breakneck economic growth, lack of compliance with safety standards, poor maintenance and corruption in enforcement agencies are blamed for this frequent work accidents in China.
Those responsible often face severe penalties, but high demand and the desire for profit often outweigh security concerns.
One of the worst accidents was a huge explosion in 2015 at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin, killing 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. The blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.
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