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March 9, 2011

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Blaze victims reject draft offers

PEOPLE left homeless by the deadly inferno that swept through a downtown high-rise last November have rejected a draft compensation offer.

Residents from the block on Jiaozhou Road, Jing'an District, which was destroyed in a fire that claimed 58 lives and left 71 injured on November 15,want an improved plan and homes to live in now.

State-owned Shanghai Jing'an Construction Co, the contractor for the building's renovation project held to be responsible for the fire, offered two plans. These would see the 156 households receive cash or a settlement package.

Under the settlement plan, households would be given apartments in budget homes scheduled to be built near the gutted high-rise.

They are due to be complete in three and a half years.

Alternately, they could receive cash compensation, about 1.5 times the price of their destroyed apartment, with the average price estimated at 30,000 yuan (US$4,568) per square meter.

However, neither proposal satisfied those left homeless.

Instead, they want to settle in permanent downtown homes as soon as possible, said a statement posted on a microblog at, with the signatures of most of the homeless.

Both sides will meet this Saturday for further negotiations.

One former resident, surnamed Wang, said most residents wanted homes in Jing'an provided now and hoped the company could improve its plan, remembering that the homeless include many children and old people.

Residents said children could not be expected to spend years living in hotels as this was not good for their schooling. It was equally unacceptable to the elderly due to heath concerns, said the statement.

"How is it possible that we have to wait almost four years to move into our new homes?" Wang asked yesterday.

"There are plenty of houses in the district. They just don't want to spend more money."

According to the formula for cash compensation, households that had a 90 square meter apartment could be paid a sum of about 4 million yuan.

However, it's difficult to find a new apartment in downtown Jing'an for less than 6 million yuan, according to current real estate prices.

The group also expressed worries about how property lost in the fire was being valued. Third party evaluation companies could hardly estimate the value of items completely destroyed, they claimed.


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