Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET on 2013-9-19
Several people were believed killed and injured when scaffoldings on a multistory hospital extension building under construction collapsed in China's far western Xinjiang region's Kashgar city, according to residents Wednesday.
Police said there were no reports of deaths and that 10 people were injured in the mishap that occurred on Sept 2 at the compound of the City Number One Hospital in Yawagh district.
The hospital refused to confirm or deny that there were fatalities, but residents claimed up to eight people were killed and more than 20 others injured when the scaffoldings came crashing down from a building where 10 of 20 stories have been completed..
The incident had gone unreported for more than two weeks in Xinjiang, where information is tightly controlled amid persistent tensions between ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs and majority Han Chinese.
"Ten people had been injured to be exact, involving both Uyghurs and Chinese. There are no deaths," Ekremjan Emet, deputy chief at the Yawagh police station, told RFA's Uyghur Service.
"[It was] a small-scale accident," he said, rejecting what he called "rumors in the streets" about fatalities. He also refused to provide any details of the company involved in the construction of the building.
Qasimjan Tursun, a manager at Kerambagh Hospital, said the scaffoldings gave way because of strong winds.
"I was conducting business outside on that day, so I was not informed of the incident immediately. But I learned later that strong winds made some structures collapse," he told RFA. "But I cannot say that no one was killed."
Patients among victims
A Yawagh resident living close to the hospital said three people died when the scaffoldings crashed on people below while another resident said he was informed that up to eight people may have been killed.
"I have heard that 7 to 8 people died and 20 others were injured. Most of those who died were patients at the hospital, caregivers, and visitors," said the second resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He said the area where the mishap occurred is usually a busy place
“Yesterday, when I passed by the affected area, there were many people. I believe that at least 30 people could have been hit by such an accident. The hospital prevented visitors for two days after the mishap, and information was restricted following warnings from police and officials," the resident said.
Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.
Correction: An earlier version of the story gave an incorrect date of the incident.