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'Improper planning caused collapse'
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-01 13:48

"Improper planning and failure to stabilize structural foundation" during the construction of the property led to the residential building collapse in the eastern outskirts of Shanghai over the weekend, a preliminary investigation has found.

The under-construction building in the Lotus Riverside residential complex in Minhang district that fell on its side, almost intact, killing a construction worker on Saturday morning, had mud packed as high as 10 m to one side as builders dug to make an underground car park on the other.

A member of the team investigating the collapse, which angered some 500 homeowners of the still unoccupied complex, said: "No builder with basic construction knowledge should have made that error."

The investigator told Shanghai Youth Daily on condition of anonymity that the underground car park "was not part of the project's primary plans".

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"The developer took no proper measures to stabilize the foundation of the structure," he said, denying media reports that loose soil was to blame for the collapse.

Of the 629 apartments in the complex, comprising 11 13-story buildings, including the one that collapsed, 489 had been sold at an average cost of 14,300 yuan ($2,100) per sq m.

The price had recently shot up to 18,800 yuan per sq m.

Hundreds of fuming homeowners who had bought the apartments stormed the reception office of the local government on Sunday demanding a refund.

The Minhang district government refused to comment on the findings of the team probing the incident. All efforts to contact Jiang Huancheng, who is leading the probe, failed.

On Monday, police claimed they were investigating nine people, who either work for the property developer, contractor, quality supervisor or the construction company involved with the project. Authorities however did not divulge their names.

Police on Monday froze the capital flow of Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Company, the property developer.

More than 130 residents who were evacuated from their homes situated near the complex have returned to their properties, the local district government said.

There is, however, still no word on whether the homeowners in the residential complex will be entitled to a refund or compensation.

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