Hundreds of social activists are on a 48-hour strike in Guangzhou, China’s second-largest city, demanding government transparency and impartial investigation into last week’s collapse of the 15-story Evergrande Country Club that killed 19 people.
The state-run official Xinhua News Agency reports that the protesters gathered Monday to demand compensation from the developer.
An Evergrande spokesman, a customer and the president of the Guangzhou Organization Management Institute also reportedly attended the strike.
“We will never forget how the Ministry of Work Safety fired its administrators. They are scapegoats,” protester Yang Hua told the Guangzhou Central News Agency.
The report does not indicate whether demonstrators met with provincial or local officials.
The $6.5 billion Country Club, a leisure complex built on flood plains above a poultry processing plant, was under construction when it was damaged by a landslide late last week. Officials have not identified a cause for the landslide, which they said was caused by mud flows within the construction site.
The government has called on all state enterprises and privately owned companies to maintain completed buildings to prevent another situation like the one at the country club.
While numerous construction incidents have cost lives in recent years, the collapse of the Country Club has drawn attention for the company’s failure to submit reliable records to government officials.
The town governments of Baihe County and Changsha District in Hunan province failed to investigate whether construction at the building contained valid permits, according to research by environmental advocacy group ChinaEnvironment.
The provinces are located about 100 miles from Hunan province’s capital, Changsha. It’s unclear whether the Ministry of Work Safety also has local control over these municipalities.
The collapse resulted in “significant damage to roads, crops, and wetlands in the surrounding area,” ChinaEnvironment found.
Hundreds of residents are still living in makeshift homes constructed of plywood and twigs at the site, prompting local officials to push back against potential lawsuits.
“Restoring our livelihoods is our priority and we’re very worried about our homes being demolished,” said Yiguang Huang, an elderly resident who lives in an emergency camp set up by residents, according to ChinaEnvironment.
The country’s top official in Hunan promised on Monday to investigate the claims, Reuters reported.
Some residents have since converted their lives into small entrepreneurship: Flowers and other decorations can be purchased from a makeshift stall at the site, and others are selling pastries and photos of the collapsed building.
Story by Fatih Ecler and Theo Wanaha. Wanaha reported from Beijing.