Panicked Pedestrians Flee Wobbling Skyscraper in Shenzhen, China

The 300-metre high SEG Plaza (C) is seen after it began to shake, in Shenzhen in China's southern Guangdong province on May 18, 2021. - - China OUT (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
STR/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of pedestrians were forced to flee downtown Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday when a 70-story building in the city’s center began to shake on its foundation.

Video footage circulated on social media showing hundreds of people evacuating the area surrounding the 1,165-foot SEG Plaza. Some people screamed as they ran away from the plaza, scrambling to get as far away from the skyscraper as quickly as possible.

Shenzhen’s Emergency Management Bureau said on May 17 it was “probing why the SEG Plaza wobbled, which is a 355-meter-high iconic building in the city,” China’s state-run Global Times reported.

“After checking and analyzing the data of various earthquake monitoring stations across the city, there was no earthquake in Shenzhen today,” the bureau wrote in a statement posted to China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform on May 17. “The cause of the shaking is being verified by various departments.”

Local government officials in Shenzhen said they first received reports about SEG Plaza “vibrating” from the building’s tenants at 12:31 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

“The building’s management then swiftly notified people in the building of an emergency evacuation. By 1:55 pm, all people were safely evacuated,” the local government of Futian district, where SEG Plaza is located, wrote in a statement posted to Weibo on May 17. The building reportedly stopped shaking at 1:30 p.m.

“The Futian district government immediately launched an emergency response, and relevant departments of the district have arranged for experts to examine the safety of the building. The preliminary investigation results revealed no ground cracks in the surrounding area,” the statement read.

Shenzhen’s housing and construction bureau also issued a statement on Weibo on Tuesday saying, “the building’s interior steel structure and its decorative surfaces are in normal condition.”

PEG Plaza was built in 2000 and currently houses Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei Electronics Market and other offices. The building towers over the heart of Shenzhen, a city that links Hong Kong to China and is considered a Chinese technology hub.

A six-story apartment block collapsed onto its foundation in Shenzhen in August 2019.

“At around 11:20 am, a block of flats in Luohu district suddenly sank into the ground and leaned to one side,” Shenzhen government officials wrote in a Weibo statement at the time.

“Before it happened, the local community office heard noises coming from underground, and evacuated residents. Right now there are no casualties,” the statement read.

“The first floor of the building was damaged and the upper structure fell to lean into the next building. Early stages of the collapse began with gas leaks and loud underground noises, alerting the community work station of the potential danger. They evacuated residents of the building, and there are currently no casualties,” the state-run China Daily reported at the time.

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