Engineers hint at flawed construction in quake area

From the Associated Press

Comments by engineers the government sent into the earthquake zone lent support Thursday to suspicions that flawed construction and poor planning contributed to the death toll from the May 12 disaster.

Chen Baosheng of Tongji University, who studies disaster prevention in buildings, and dozens of other experts are compiling recommendations for the government. Though he and two other engineers declined to discuss the contents of their report, they described disturbing examples of bad construction.

“I remember driving past Nanba Primary School,” said Li Xianzhong of the China Academy of Building Research in Beijing. “I felt it extremely strange that the school building was shaken to the ground, whereas the buildings next to it were still standing.”


In Pingwu county, Li said, buildings were constructed near a river bend on unstable beds of sinking soil and shifting sands. In Jiangyou city, a 15-story building lacked support columns driven into the ground for stability, he said.

Builders used prefabricated concrete slabs for the middle school in Juyuan, and the main building lay parallel to the fault line, causing it to shake violently and collapse, Chen said. An adjacent building perpendicular to the fault line did not.