At least 40 killed in east China scaffolding collapse

A cooling-tower platform plunged to the ground in the early hours of Thursday, trapping an unknown number of people beneath it, the semi-official Xinhua news agency reported.

At least 40 people were confirmed dead, with the death toll likely to rise further as rescue works were still underway, the report said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday urged local authorities to step up efforts of rescue, treatment and follow-up work after a deadly construction site collapse that has killed 67.

Footage from the scene showed rescue workers with search dogs searching through debris beneath the large cooling tower in Jiangxi province in east China.

It had also ordered a safety overhaul nationwide to avoid such accidents from happening again.

Safety at industrial sites in China has become a growing concern, with lax safety standards and a high numbers of accidents being reported every year.

The new cooling tower is part of a $1.1bn expansion plan of Fengcheng Power Plant, which is owned by state-owned Jiangxi Ganneng Co. Ltd.

"Strengthen oversight and preventive measures", the prime minister, Li Keqiang, said in instructions about the accident issued on the central government's website.

Also Thursday, Yang Dongliang, a former head of the State Administration of Work Safety, stood trial in a Beijing court for allegedly accepting $4.3 million in bribes between 2002 and past year, as he rose through the ranks as an official in Tianjin before joining the regulatory agency. In August 2015, two explosions at a warehouse in the port city of Tianjin killed dozens.

In June 2015, poor decisions by the captain and crew were blamed for the deaths of 442 people after a modified cruise ship capsized on the Yangtze River.

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