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February 12, 2010

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6 receive prison stretches over fatal Shanghai building collapse

SIX people were yesterday jailed for between three and five years for their roles in the collapse of an apartment building at Lotus Riverside in Shanghai last year.

Minhang District People's Court imprisoned them for causing a serious accident resulting in death and leading to direct economic losses of more than 19 million yuan (US$ 2.78 million).

All six said they would appeal.

The two prime defendants - Que Jingde, former assisting director of Meilong Town and a partner in the Lotus Riverside developer Meidu Real Estate Development Co Ltd, and Zhang Zhiqin, Meidu's board chairman - will be dealt with in a case to be heard by the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court.

Qin Yonglin, who was appointed to manage the whole project by the developer, received a five-year term. Qin, 50, was hired despite the fact that his business license had expired.

The court said that though Qin contracted an unqualified company to dig underground garages near the building on Zhang's orders, he still had to assume administrative responsibilities.

Zhang Yaojie, the president of Shanghai Zhongxin Construction Co Ltd, which was entrusted by the developer to build the Lotus Riverside complex, received a five-year term for lax management.

Zhang Yaojie's brother - Zhang Yaoxiong - was jailed for four years. He was contracted by the developer to dig the underground garages, even though he did not have the necessary licenses.

Project supervisor Qiao Lei received three years for failure to oversee proceedings. As a chief engineer of the Shanghai Guangqi Construction Supervision Co Ltd, she had reminded them of the problems but failed to stop the illegal practice, the court said.

Two Zhongxin employees received four-year and three-year terms.

Xia Jiangang, who was appointed to administer the construction site's safety and fire-risk work, was jailed for four years for lack of on-site supervision.

Lu Weiying, the project manager, received three years even though she never worked for the project or received any salary from the company.

She allowed the company to use her work certification as a project manager to compete for the bid.

The court said that Lu helped the company escape government inspection, which may have helped to find and head off problems in construction.

It said the developer, builder and supervisor failed to carry out their duties.

The building toppled on June 27, 2009, because pressure on both sides moved the foundations horizontally. A migrant worker on the site was killed in the collapse.

The construction cost of the toppled building was evaluated to be 6.69 million yuan and 12.77 million yuan in compensation was paid out to property buyers.


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