Panic as Chinese skyscraper starts shaking for no apparent reason

FAN Editor

Beijing — Engineers were inspecting a skyscraper in southern China on Wednesday, a day after it triggered widespread panic when it suddenly began shaking, as people took to social media to ask if shoddy construction may have been to blame.

People gather outside the 73-storey SEG skyscraper in Shenzhen
People gather outside the 73-story SEG Plaza skyscraper in Shenzhen, China, May 18, 2021, in a picture obtained from social media. Weibo/@Shaguo Dabao Tou/REUTERS

The 1,000-foot SEG Plaza in the southern city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong began swaying in the early afternoon on Tuesday, prompting people inside and those on the streets below to flee.

Emergency management officials quickly ruled out an earthquake as the cause of the wobble in the tech hub’s Futian district.

Officials said no further movement had been detected and experts found “no safety abnormalities in the main structure and surrounding environment of the building.”

The building had stopped shaking by the time people were evacuated, state media reported, and the plaza remained sealed off.

china-shenzhen-skyscraper-seg.jpg
People gather outside the 73-story SEG skyscraper in Shenzhen, China, May 18, 2021, in a picture obtained from video posted to social media.  Weibo/@Shaguo Dabao Tou/REUTERS

Building collapses are not rare in China, where lax construction standards and breakneck urbanization over recent decades has led to buildings being thrown up in haste.

Poor construction standards are often linked to corruption among local officials, most recently after the collapse of a quarantine hotel in southern China last year.

Social media immediately lit up after Tuesday’s incident, with hashtags on the Twitter-like Weibo related to the shaking garnering more than 780 million views and hundreds of thousands of comments, with many users worried about construction standards.

“Shenzhen should not use this shaking building again. It’s fit for demolition,” wrote one.

“In today’s cities, there’s no guarantee of the quality of these skyscrapers,” added another.

SEG Plaza In Shenzhen
SEG Plaza is seen at Futian District on April 20, 2021 in Shenzhen, in the Guangdong Province of China. VCG/VCG via Getty

Completed in 2000, the tower is home to a major electronics market as well as various offices in the central business district of Shenzhen, a sprawling metropolis of more than 13 million people.

The building is named after the semiconductor and electronics manufacturer Shenzhen Electronics Group, whose offices are based in the complex.

It is the 18th tallest tower in Shenzhen, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat skyscraper database.

Chinese authorities last year banned the construction of skyscrapers taller than 500 meters (1,640 feet), adding to height restrictions already enforced in some other cities such as Beijing.

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