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Anger and tears over collapse of building

[ 2009-06-29 11:40]     字号 [] [] []  
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Zhou Xuejun, 60, burst into tears and demanded a refund for her residential unit, which she says is unsafe after a nearby building collapsed in Shanghai's Minhang district.

"I can't live there," she cried as she pounded on a desk yesterday at the government reception center set up to deal with the accident. Standing behind her were hundreds of other angry homeowners, who spent millions on similar apartments priced at about 14,300 yuan ($2,090) per sq m.

Sheng Shunchang, a homeowner, said: "I want my money back and compensation for the price gap when I buy a new property, considering the soaring property prices."

The residents have bought units at 11 apartment blocks in the "Lotus Riverside" residential community, which is under construction on the eastern outskirts of Shanghai.

At about 5:40 am on Saturday, one of those buildings fell on its side, almost intact. Pillars that were supposed to be buried deep under the earth were uprooted. A 28-year-old worker surnamed Xiao from Anhui province was killed as he collected his tools from the falling building.

It has emerged that the developer, Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Company, has been working illegally because its construction license expired in 2004.

Zhang Suping, who lives across the river from the collapsed building, said his family and neighbors were awoken at dawn by the falling building.

"I thought it was an earthquake and I ran downstairs, where I found other neighbors looking at the collapsed building," he said.

About 132 households across the street were evacuated and 120 families were moved to hotels paid for by the district government. Shanghai mayor Han Zheng and Party secretary Yu Zhengsheng have ordered an investigation into the collapse.

An initial investigation found that the rest of the buildings are safe. "An investigation team formed by experts found that by 6 pm of Saturday, none of the other 10 buildings have tilt, shift or sank," the report says.

"And government departments have also found no leaking, cracks or moving of gas pipes, power wires or water pipes. They all meet the safety standards and chance of a secondary disaster is low."

However, Xu Jianping, who signed a contract for an apartment in one of those buildings only 10 days ago said: "I dare not move in."

Most residents are demanding refunds and compensation, but experts doubt whether their claims will be successful. Si Weijiang, a lawyer, said the refund and compensation claims would depend on the result of investigations.

"Buyers of the collapsed building will definitely get their money back, but it is not sure if others who still have their property will," he said.

The Shanghai government yesterday ordered developers to ensure safety during the construction of all projects.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Anger and tears over collapse of building

About the broadcaster:

Anger and tears over collapse of building

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.