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August 10, 2010

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Building with cracks is 'safe'

A GOVERNMENT designated panel of experts said that a downtown 14-floor residential building, which has ground cracks and subsidence, is "safe to live in," a conclusion that has not eased the anger and worry of its residents.

Some of the 82 households living in the building in Hongkou District said yesterday they planned to pay a third-party architectural institute to conduct new tests.

"If the structure is safe," resident Shen Yingwei said, "Why do the cracks continue to get bigger?"

Shen said he and others want to see an independent test report.

More than a week ago, the residents had set up a few tents alongside a road near their complex to protest the construction work on an underground parking lot for nearby Shanghai Bothland Hotel.

Yesterday, city management officials asked them to remove the tents. The words "our building is going to topple" were written on the tents.

Residents detected the cracks earlier this year but they could not reach any agreement on compensation after three rounds of talks.

The local construction safety watchdog summoned the experts, who held a meeting, checked previous testing files and visited the construction site on Saturday afternoon.

The district government said in a statement that the experts concluded that the builders involved in the construction work have legal licenses and are qualified.

The experts also approved a recent monitor result which said the cracks "are still under controlled range."

Residents questioned the report's credibility as it was mainly conducted by an architectural and engineering consultant that was invited by the hotel.

In a recent report on August 1, the crack between the building's doorway and the road increased by 2.9 millimeters compared with that in late June. The crack is now about 20mm wide.

The experts suggested the builders beef up the reinforced concrete foundations of the parking lot. They also said the builders "should have an emergency plan to ensure building safety."

However, Shen said no further repair work has been done on the cracks despite the recommendation.

"It never occurred to me that I would be this unlucky," said Shen, who paid 800,000 yuan (US$118,218) for his apartment.


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