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June 22, 2011

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12 injured by falling store sign

A GIANT store sign fell on pedestrians sheltering from wind and torrential rain in Putuo District yesterday, injuring 12 people.

Most of the injured, who were admitted to two local hospitals, suffered minor cuts and scratches but two women and one man were more seriously hurt.

All the injured were in a stable condition last night, the hospitals said.

The accident happened at about 2pm on Caoyang Road, outside a cellphone store that is due to open shortly.

The shop sign for the Funtalk store was about 20 meters long, more than 1 meter wide and 2-3 meters above the street, said witnesses.

A shop worker, surnamed Jiang, from a grocery store next door, said he saw more than 10 people standing beneath the board and shop front "sheltering from the sudden downpour" yesterday afternoon.

Suddenly, the shop sign, which was made of wooden board, aluminum and lighting tubes, crashed down, striking people sheltering below.

Jiang said decoration work on the Funtalk store had just finished days before and the shop was about to open.

Some of the injured people said the sign collapsed very quickly.

"It happened too fast for me to react," said Weng Huaiqing, who suffered bruises and cuts to his head and feet.

Lying in a hospital bed, Weng, 46, said he was lucky as he was quickly helped out by passers-by.

Firefighters and emergency workers took around 30 minutes to get other victims out of the debris.

The seriously injured included a 53-year-old woman who went into a state of shock following the accident, a 32-year-old man who suffered back injuries and broken ribs and a young woman who received neck injuries.

At the scene, the clean-up operation lasted more than an hour. City work safety and urban management authorities are investigating the accident.

People at nearby shops said the store had been working to get decoration complete before the opening date.

Funtalk was founded in 2003 and is one of the country's largest mobile communications products sellers and service providers, according to its official website.

City authorities remove ad boards deemed unsafe, especially during the rainy and typhoon season.

Each year, more than 10,000 illegal boards are traced and taken down by workers.

However, some companies simply store away advertising boards, erecting them again once local government removal campaigns are over.


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