Rescue workers carry a survivor on a stretcher after a building collapsed in Changsha

At least 26 dead in central China building collapse as death toll rises

BEIJING (AP) — The death toll has risen to 26 in the collapse of a building in central China. The official Xinhua News Agency says that 10 people had also been rescued as of Thursday night. Rescuers have been searching through the rubble since the building in the city of Changsha collapsed last Friday.

The announcement came after the 10th survivor was rescued early Thursday, almost six days after the collapse. At least nine people have been arrested in connection with the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building” on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.

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All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital. Intermittent rain showers in recent days may have increased their chances of survival without food or water. Many remain missing.

In an account of Monday’s rescue of the eighth survivor pulled out, state media said rescuers faced an unstable pile of rubble that they had to work around rather than demolish. Prior to the rescue, they were able to feed in video equipment to communicate with the girl and establish that one of her legs was trapped.

Before retreating to draw up a strategy, they fed in saline solution for her to drink, to which she responded, “Don’t worry big brother, I know you’ll be back for me right away,” the reports said.

No other details about the girl or her condition were given.

At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building,” including its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.

Also held were three people in charge of design and construction and five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.

An increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to call last month for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for such disasters. China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.