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Nov 24, 2016

The collapse of a platform supporting workers within a power station cooling tower currently under construction has led to 74 deaths, according to state news agency Xinhua. The incident happened early Thursday morning in Fengcheng, a city of about 1.5 million people located in eastern China’s Jiangxi province.

Two people were injured in the collapse. So far, 68 of the bodies have been identified.

The cause of the accident is believed to have been the collapse of a crane within the cooling tower. As it fell, it pulled down a circular walkway it was connected to that ran along the inner wall of the cooling tower.

A construction accident in a power station cooling tower currently under construction has caused at least 40 deaths.

Video footage from the scene shows rescue workers scouring piles of twisted metal surrounding a damaged central structure, as others carry body bags away from the site.

The cooling tower where the accident occurred is part of an expansion to the coal-fired power plant. The project was green-lighted by the provincial government in July 2015, and construction on the cooling tower started in April this year.

An employee of Yineng Smokestack Engineering Co., Ltd., the company carrying out the construction work, said in an interview with The Paper that all the casualties were Yineng employees. When asked whether the company was under pressure to speed up its work, he said, “If you're rushing to meet a construction deadline, then you have to rush.”

Party newspaper People’s Daily reported that the project had been issued a warning earlier in November for not adhering to safety standards on four accounts, including using substandard scaffolding rails and allowing personnel to work without safety harnesses.

Construction is China’s most lethal industry, with more recorded deaths than other high-risk industries like mining. According to government statistics, over the first three quarters of 2016, some 570 people died while working on residential or public construction projects, an increase of more than 30 percent compared to 2015.

This article has been updated to reflect recent developments.

With contributions from Owen Churchill, Wang Lianzhang, and Lin Qiqing.

(Header image: A rescue team searches for survivors in the wreckage of a collapsed scaffold in a power station cooling tower in Fengcheng, Jiangxi province, Nov. 24, 2016. From CCTV News’ Weibo account)