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November 25, 2010

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Blaze site closed off to public

BARRIERS have been erected on two roads near the downtown residential high-rise that went up in flames last Monday, killing 58 people, as workers prepare to carry out protective work on the damaged structure.

Authorities have left narrow passages on Yuyao Road and Jiaozhou Road in Jing'an District for mopeds and bicycles.

Passersby can see little of what's going on behind the metal barriers, which are more than 2 meters high.

Locals had left flowers at the foot of the 28-storey building after the tragedy. Mourners continue to bring flowers, but must now leave them at the barriers.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at the site over the weekend, but there were fewer mourners yesterday.

Safety checks, which are expected to last a week, will also be conducted on the two neighboring buildings in the Jiaozhou Road complex, the city government said.

Zhang Renliang, the governor of Jing'an District, warned there was a risk of falling debris from the site.

It is estimated that the hundreds of residents from the two undamaged buildings can move home on December 20, according to a district government notice to residents.

All those affected by the blaze are currently living in 17 local hotels and inns.

Meanwhile, residents gathered yesterday to discuss details of compensation plans released on Tuesday.

"How can we separate and evaluate our possessions burned in the apartment from those of our tenant?" asked an old couple who rented their apartment on the seventh floor. The couple has already given back money to the tenant.

They were told to wait for further information.

Others were preoccupied with other concerns.

"For now, we just want to bring him back home for a decent burial," said relatives of blaze victim Chen Bihua.

Chen, from Jiangsu Province's Nantong, was alone doing decorating work in an apartment on the 18th floor when the accident happened. Chen's family is expected to receive 960,000 yuan (US$144,480) in compensation.

The inferno on November 15 also injured 71 people in the building which was undergoing renovation. Only one of the 58 dead has still to be identified.

The city government decided not to release the names of the dead after consulting with their families.

More than one third of relatives did not want the information made public.

Migrant workers, concerned about being paid since the fire, have been told they will receive their money from the project contractor, Jing'an Construction Group.

Meanwhile, city construction authorities will conduct another round of safety checks on construction sites from November 29.

The city will also tighten the bidding process for construction projects to stop companies with poor safety records winning contracts.


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