CHINA> Regional
Cost-cutting not cause of tower's fall
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-04 08:29

 Cost-cutting not cause of tower's fall

Shanghai authorities announce that the apartment building that collapsed early Saturday, killing one worker, was not compromised because of cost-cutting but because of apparent construction mistakes that undermined the building's foundations. Xinhua

SHANGHAI: The collapse of a Shanghai high-rise last Saturday was not due to cost-cutting on the part of its builders - as some rumors have suggested, local authorities announced on Friday.

The design and materials used on the 13-story building, one of 11 under construction in Minhang district's Lotus Riverside residential complex, meet appropriate standards, said Huang Rong, director of Shanghai Municipal Construction and Communications Committee.

The pre-stressed high-strength concrete (PHC) hollow foundation piles that were uprooted in the collapse, and which were widely criticized by the public as a possible cause, were being used properly, said Jiang Huancheng, an academician leading the investigation.

Huang said mud piled up to a height of 10 meters on the north side of the building and the excavation of a 4.6-m deep underground car park on the other side caused the foundation to shift, leading to the collapse.

Gu Guorong, another expert in the investigation team, said the ground could have withstood a mud pile no higher than 5 m. "I have never seen or heard of such an accident in my whole 46 years in the industry," said Gu.

 Cost-cutting not cause of tower's fall

A pedestrian looks at the toppled apartment building on Friday in Shanghai's Lotus Riverside complex. China News Service

The news conference attracted around 200 journalists who were told there was no decision as yet on possible compensation for the 500 homeowners affected.

Huang said the cause of the accident needs further investigation. He also said prosecutors have joined the probe.

Any immediate danger to surrounding buildings has been mitigated and a 24-hour watch is still being conducted, he said.

Further safety tests will be conducted on the 620-unit complex and the 66,000 sq m development will be reinforced if that is found to be necessary.

The collapse, which happened around dawn on Saturday, claimed the life of a 28-year-old worker, surnamed Xiao, from Anhui province, who had returned to the site to collect tools.

Chen Zhiqiang, an official with Minhang district government, said the authority is negotiating with Xiao's family over compensation.

Residents of 132 nearby households who were evacuated as a precaution have been allowed to return home.

On Monday, Minhang district government announced that nine individuals connected to the incident have had their freedom limited as the probe continues and the capital of the developer has been frozen.

Documents filed by the developer - Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Development - with regulatory bodies suggest several board members work for the local township government, something that is illegal.

(China Daily 07/04/2009 page3)