Source AP ©

Ten people killed in building collapse in southwest China's Chengdu

Brick facades collapsed onto crowds in a busy commercial street in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, killing at least 10 people, state media and a city spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Another 24 people were hospitalized after Monday afternoon's disaster, in which materials including sign boards, bricks, concrete and wood atop a row of single-story shops tumbled over without warning or apparent cause, the Shanghai Morning Post said.

Six were killed at the scene and four more died after being hospitalized, said a Chengdu city spokeswoman, who like many Chinese officials refused to be identified by name.

"We're waiting for updated information. The cause of the accident is still under investigation," the woman said.

Those killed included four elderly people crushed while playing mahjong in the open area in front of the shops.

Another elderly woman said she had been playing cards in the open when her pet dog began barking shrilly, warning her of the crashing bricks.

"If it hadn't been for that dog, I'd have been crushed too," the woman, identified only as Mrs. Zhang, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Poor construction quality is a chronic problem in China, often blamed on poor planning, shoddy work, or theft of materials.

Last month, a cave-in along a subway line being built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics killed at least four construction workers. The accident and allegations of an attempted cover-up by the construction company have embarrassed the city as it prepares for the highly anticipated Games next year.