Huanan County, Heilongjiang Province, China – A tragic incident unfolded in China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang on Monday, resulting in the deaths of three individuals and an injury to another, as reported by the local government on Tuesday morning. The collapse of a gym during a snowstorm has raised concerns and left authorities grappling for answers.
The cause of this disastrous event, which occurred at approximately 7:20 pm on Monday, remains shrouded in mystery, as the Huanan County government has stated that a thorough investigation is underway. According to mainland media reports, heavy snowfall is believed to be a contributing factor, although this is yet to be confirmed officially.
The rescue operation, launched in response to the gym’s collapse, concluded at 12:35 am on Tuesday, according to an announcement by Huanan officials. Seven individuals were present at the scene during the incident, with three managing to escape the collapse. State broadcaster CCTV has revealed that the affected area was a basketball gym.
Authorities in Huanan had previously issued a red alert for snowstorms on Monday afternoon, the highest warning level in China’s four-tier system, and advised local businesses to close if deemed necessary. Despite this, reports from Chongqing-based Upstream News indicated that the gym remained open on Monday.
Images circulating on social media depict the aftermath of the collapse, showing a portion of the gym’s roof covered in snow, revealing the devastating consequences of this incident.
This unfortunate event echoes a similar tragedy that occurred in Heilongjiang province in July, where 11 people lost their lives due to a gymnasium roof collapse in Qiqihar, following a rainstorm. Local authorities attributed the collapse to a construction company’s improper storage of highly absorbent building materials on the roof.
A press release from the Huanan government’s website revealed that Huanan County Mayor Cheng Xianfeng had previously visited the gym that collapsed in July as part of official inspections following the Qiqihar accident.
China’s National Meteorological Centre issued its first snowstorm warning of the year on Saturday, forecasting heavy snowstorms in several northeastern provinces from Sunday to Tuesday, with some areas anticipating record-breaking snowfall.
In response, several cities in Heilongjiang province announced work and school closures on Monday. Huanan County, located 1,350 kilometers (838 miles) northeast of Beijing and 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of the China-Russia border, continues to grapple with ongoing snowfall as they come to terms with this tragic incident.
The investigation into the gym collapse remains ongoing as authorities seek to determine the exact causes and potential lessons to prevent such tragedies in the future.