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Pressure differential

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压力差(yā lì chā): pressure differential

This is the official explanation for the collapse of a high-rise apartment building in a nearly-completed residential complex in Shanghai. The building toppled over almost completely intact, leaving just enough room to avoid an even more destructive domino effect involving identical buildings in the same complex.

The official explanation for the building collapse in the “Lotus Riverside” development was a pressure differential caused by a 4.6 meter deep underground garage on one side and a mound of soil heaped 10 meters high on the other side. The report went on to state that the design of the building and the materials used were up to specification.

Netizens were extremely cynical about the report and wondered on numerous blogs and comment sections whether a “pressure differential” was really the cause of the collapse. A number of self-proclaimed experts weighed in wondering whether water seepage or design flaws were the actual cause of the collapse.

Soon the word “pressure differential” became a new online catchphrase. Netizens mockingly lauded the invention of the concept “pressure differential” and suggested that its inventors had received the Nobel Prize: “From now on, when buildings need to be demolished, all we need to do is dig a 4.6 meter hole on one side and pile a 10 meter heap of soil and the other side and it will have the desired effect. This will truly revolutionize demolition technology!”

Others poked fun at shoddy building standards and high demand for apartments by saying that the building “simply needed to be dusted off and stood upright” and that the sale of apartment buildings could continue unimpeded (扶起来,洗洗干净继续卖). People joked that the apartment building didn't fall down but was simply doing push-ups ( 房子没有倒,它只是在做俯卧撑而已). Still others strung together a number of boilerplate official news phrases to argue that the collpase was due to “a small bunch of concrete that did not understand the actual situation. The other surrounding buildings are all emotionally stable”(肯定是一小撮不明真相的混凝土干的,周围其它楼情绪稳定).

A picture illustrating how a "pressure differential" could cause the building to collapse. Netizens were skeptical of this official explanation.
"Really, is that all we need to do? From now on we can really save a lot of effort when we demolish buildings!"
"Did you spill the cup of water?" "It wasn't me, it was a pressure differential!" "You may as well have said that the cup committed suicide!" (Han Han's joking explanation for the building collapse.)