Two people died after a residential building collapsed in Zunyi, Guizhou province, early on Sunday morning, Jun 14.
The old nine-story building on Yan'an Road in Honghuagang district had 19 residents inside when it collapsed. 14 residents were unharmed, and two were hospitalised with minor injuries.
Rescuers have found two bodies, and another resident remained missing late on Sunday, the district's government said, adding that the cause of the accident is under investigation.
"Based on the available information, the tragedy might have been caused by the building foundation's subsidence, which could be the direct result of substandard construction work or the selection of a bad building site," said a construction expert at the China Academy of Building Research who wished to be identified only as Liu.
"Such accidents are not likely to be caused by rains or other outside elements because if the building's quality is up to standard, no matter how heavy the rain is, the foundation will not erode," she said.
The Guizhou government should conduct a thorough check on the province's old buildings, she said, and inject cement paste into the foundation of buildings found to have safety hazards.
The building collapse was the second in Zunyi in the past week. A seven-story structure collapsed on Tuesday morning in Huichuan district. No one was injured in that collapse, thanks to a couple who saw cracks on their apartment wall and then went door-to-door warning their neighbours to leave the building.
The Huichuan district government said the Tuesday collapse was caused by the building owner's irregular construction. Four additional stories were built on a structure that had only three floors in its approved design.
Guizhou province authorities should pay more attention to the safety and quality of residential buildings, the Communist Party of China's flagship newspaper said on Sunday on its WeChat account.
"The government must investigate who should be held accountable for the accidents and must punish or remove them. It should never happen again that the dereliction of duty of some civil servants or government bodies lead to sacrifices of members of the public," People's Daily said.
"A human life is of greater value than everything. Authorities should spare no effort to ensure the safety of residents," it urged.
In Guiyang, Guizhou's capital, a nine-story building with 35 households collapsed on May 20, killing 16 residents. Two other buildings collapsed in Liaoning province within the past month.