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August 13, 2009

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7 arrested in building's fatal fall

SEVEN people connected with the June building collapse that killed a worker in Shanghai's Minhang District were arrested yesterday.

The district prosecutors office charged the suspects with being responsible for a fatal accident, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years.

The highest-visibility suspect was Zhang Zhiqin, board chairman and general manager of Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Co Ltd, developer of the Lotus Riverside residential complex, where the collapse of the nearly completed building occurred.

The others were Zhang Yaojie, board chairman of Shanghai Zhongxin Construction Co Ltd, the builder of the complex; Xia Jiangang and Lu Weiying, Zhongxin employees; Zhang Yaoxiong, younger brother of Zhang Yaojie; Qiao Lei, chief engineer of Shanghai Guangqi Construction Supervision Co Ltd and chief supervisor of the Lotus project; and Qin Yonglin, a Meidu employee.

The 13-story building toppled on June 27, crushing a worker to death. The accident was caused by improper directions that were given to workers in an attempt to catch up with the construction schedule, said Minhang District prosecutors.

Workers had piled excavated earth up to 10 meters high on the north side of the building while digging a 4.6-meter-deep underground garage on the south side.

Pressure from the piled-up earth caused the building's foundation to move, and it was unable to support the structure, construction experts found. Prosecutors didn't clarify the exact roles the suspects allegedly played in the mishap, other than to say their violations of safety rules had caused the fatal mishap.

Demolition of the collapsed building resumed yesterday after it was suspended a week ago due to the opposition of property owners.

"The damaged building has affected flood control work and hindered the testing of the other buildings and other construction," the complex developer said in a statement on Tuesday.

It also said a group of experts will announce the results of quality tests on the other 10 buildings at Lotus Riverside within 40 days after the toppled building is demolished.

The site of the collapsed building will be turned into public green space.


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