China Dongguan city construction site collapse
A Chinese laborer works on scaffolding at a construction site on June 14, 2006, in Beijing. Getty Images/Guang Niu

Chinese authorities said Thursday that 18 people were killed and another 18 were injured in an accident at a construction site in Dongguan city in the eastern Guandong province Wednesday. The accident occurred after a crane fell on a shed that was sheltering the construction workers due to heavy winds, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

Most of the workers were sleeping when the crane fell Wednesday morning, and according to a report by BBC, which cited the deputy secretary-general of the Dongguan municipal authorities and spokesperson for the rescue team, Luo Bin, the shed housed 139 workers at the time of the accident. The SCMP report added that 88 people managed to evacuate on their own. While 15 workers were released from the hospital after suffering minor injuries, 18 more stayed in the hospital for treatment. Four of them were in critical condition, while the city’s health department said that most of the injured suffered fractures and lacerations.

An investigation has been opened into the incident while 20 million yuan ($3 million) was made available for recovery and cleanup of the area by the companies concerned, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

“We have assigned personnel to cope with the aftermath of the accident and to comfort the relatives of the dead and injured one by one. The company which takes responsibility for the construction work has allocated a special fund of 20 million yuan (3.1 million U.S. dollars) to deal with the aftermath issue. We will do our best to make sure that the injured acquire medical treatment and to solve relevant difficulties,” Luo said, according to state-run China Radio International. He added that a special team was also formed to comfort the families of the victims.

The site belongs to CCCC Fourth Harbor Engineering, a subsidiary company of the state-run China Communication Construction Company, SCMP reported. The parent firm reportedly specializes in prefabricated buildings. About 250 firefighters and 40 fire engines were sent to the scene from Dongguan, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The province has been witnessing downpours, strong winds, hail and thunderstorms while several cities reported flooding and strong winds that led to trees toppling, SCMP reported. Following the incident, several people on social media questioned why such a heavy frame was placed next to a housing shelter amid extreme weather.

The accident is being considered the deadliest one to strike the region since December, when 74 people were killed or left missing after a man-made mountain of construction waste collapsed onto buildings in the city of Shenzhen nearby, according to AP. Police officials had detained 11 people over the suspicion of their failure to prevent the incident.