A 70-plus-story high-rise in China's Shenzhen city wobbled for two consecutive days even though there was no earthquake at the time. The city experienced only light winds, The Epoch Times reported.
SEG Plaza, a 1,167-foot building with 75 floors above ground and four floors underground, started to sway at noon on Tuesday, May 18. Some 15,000 people fled the 21-year-old building in panic, crowding the streets as the tower continued to shake. Chinese media reported that all evacuees managed to escape within an hour and a half without any injury.
The wobbling resumed the next day but it wasn't as intense as before. The building remained closed for investigation, though tech shop owners were allowed to enter the first 10 floors to collect their merchandise. Three floors of crypto-mining computers that are part of a major crypto-mining market in China were not accessible due to the two-day incident.
Engineers monitoring the skyscraper failed to determine the cause of the shaking, the local government said, noting that experts found "no safety abnormalities in the main structure and surrounding environment of the building." The swaying also did not exceed the building code limit for high-rises, it added.
But local media reported on Thursday that the skyscraper did not have a tuned mass damper, a large pendulum-like device mounted in high-rises to reduce vibrations. Guangdong Province officials confirmed that the building had a vertical instead of horizontal movement, which would point to factors such as wind, underground rail lines and the expansion of steel with rising temperatures as possible causes. (Related: High-rise building in the UAE engulfed in flames, yet doesn't collapse like WTC 7 because fires don't collapse concrete buildings.)
The U.S. Consulate in nearby Guangzhou warned citizens a day after the evacuation to avoid the area surrounding the tower. It explained that there was "inadequate information to assess the safety risks."
SEG Plaza is the 18th tallest building in Shenzhen and the 104th tallest in China. The first 10 floors above ground cater to the electronic market while the upper floors are offices and a hotel, according to state-run Shenzhen News.
On the first day of the swaying, SEG's stock price dropped more than seven percent on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and closed 4.88 percent lower than its opening price.
Building collapse is quite common China, where lax constructions standards and breakneck urbanization over the past decades led to buildings being put up in haste, according to Australia's ABC News. Poor construction standards are linked to corruption in the local government.
Last year, the five-story Xinjia Hotel in Quanzhou, Fujian collapsed to the ground, killing 29 people and injuring 42. The hotel opened in 2018 and was used last year as a quarantine facility for people who had close contact with patients of the Wuhan coronavirus. Seventy-one people were inside the building at the time of the collapse.
The first floor was undergoing renovation since January. Authorities said that construction workers called the hotel owner minutes before the accident to report a deformed pillar.
An official investigation later found that three floors were added illegally to the hotel's original four-story structure, with the hotel owner colluding with building inspectors to get the renovation approved.
Charges were filed against 23 people involved with the construction while local officials were under investigation for possible corruption, state media reported. Quanzhou Mayor Wang Yongli was also reprimanded for dereliction of duty, along with dozens of other civil servants.
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