Chinese authorities have banned most state media from reporting on the collapse of a bridge in southern China, with local officials punching and chasing reporters from the scene of the mishap. The harassment and the reporting ban, issued by the Central Propaganda Department, came on August 16 after reporters swarmed the tourist town of Fenghuang to report on the accident that happened on August 13. The accident left at least 47 people dead, making it one of the worst building accidents in China in recent years.
The accident has raised troubling questions about shoddy building and corruption amongst officials and contractors. "The government does not want the media to uncover the collapse," said Li Datong, a veteran newspaperman forced out from a top editing job two years ago for running reports that angered authorities. A propaganda department official who declined to give his name said he was "not clear" about the ban. Liu Xiajun, a duty officer in the Fenghuang police department said reporters had made an emergency call reporting harassment, but declined any further comment on the incident.
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