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Panic as 300m high tall skyscraper wobbles in China

One of China’s tallest skyscrapers was evacuated on Tuesday after it began to shake, sending panicked shoppers scampering to safety.

The near 300 metre (980 ft) high SEG Plaza in Shenzhen, southern China, inexplicably began to shake at around 1pm, prompting an evacuation of people inside while pedestrians looked on open-mouthed.

The building wasclosed by 2.40pm, according to local media reports.

Completed in 2000, the tower is home to a major electronics market as well as various offices in the downtown of one of China’s fastest-growing cities.

Officials are investigating what caused the tower in the city’s Futian district to wobble, according to a post on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

“After checking and analysing the data of various earthquake monitoring stations across the city, there was no earthquake in Shenzhen today,” the statement said.

The district said in another statement later on Tuesday that everyone inside had been safely evacuated and that no further movements of the building had been detected.

Experts “found no safety abnormalities in the main structure and surrounding environment of the building,” and the interior and exterior components of the building appeared undamaged, the district said.

Bystander videos published by local media on Weibo showed the skyscraper shaking as hundreds of terrified pedestrians ran away outside.

“SEG has been completely evacuated,” wrote one Weibo user in a caption to a video of hundreds of people milling about on a wide shopping street near the tower.

The building is named after the semiconductor and electronics manufacturer Shenzhen Electronics Group, whose offices are based in the complex.

It is the 18th tallest tower in Shenzhen, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat skyscraper database.

Chinese authorities last year banned the construction of skyscrapers taller than 500 metres, adding to height restrictions already enforced in some cities such as Beijing.

The new guidelines for architects, urban planners and developers aimed to “highlight Chinese characteristics” and also banned tacky “copycat” buildings modelled after world landmarks.

Five of the world’s tallest skyscrapers are located in China, including the world’s second-tallest building, the Shanghai Tower, which stands at 632 metres.

Shenzhen is a sprawling metropolis in southern China, close to Hong Kong, which has a booming homegrown tech manufacturing scene.

Many Chinese tech giants, including Tencent and Huawei, have chosen the city to host their headquarters.

It is also home to the world’s fourth-tallest skyscraper, the 599-metre Ping An Finance Centre.

Building collapses are not rare in China, where lax building standards and breakneck urbanisation lead to constructions being thrown up in haste.

Last May, a five-storey quarantine hotel in the south-eastern city of Quanzhou collapsed due to shoddy construction, killing 29.

The devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake caused over 69,000 deaths and the disaster ignited a storm of public controversy over poorly constructed school buildings – dubbed ‘tofu dregs’ – which collapsed killing thousands of students.

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