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March 1, 2010

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Buildings tilt and city residents get that sinking feeling

A DOUBLE dose of the Leaning Tower of Pisa has happened in Shanghai and just like their more famous Italian counterpart, the effect is by accident, not design.

While the two residential buildings in Qingpu District are tilting, assessment and correction work is under way, according to district authorities over the weekend.

The Qingpu District government has posted a statement on its Website, assuring that all is safe for now.

The buildings - No. 28 and No. 29 of the Dongfeng residential community in Xujing Township - were leaning to the north.

A resident surnamed Chen, who lives on the fifth floor of the No. 28 building, told the Xinmin Evening News that an empty beer bottle would roll from his south-facing balcony to his north-facing kitchen all on its own as if it was on a slope.

Chen also said people who walked from north to south in the home "feel like they are climbing."

"My apartment also shakes if a truck drives past the street in front of our building," Chen was quoted as saying.

Last July, local residents reported the leaning to the Qingpu government and were told the Shanghai Housing Quality Inspection Station would carry out tests and monitor the buildings in September.

The leaning rate of the No. 28 building has surpassed 1 percent, far more than the 0.4 percent allowed in accordance to the country's regulations.

"The leaning is serious and needs correction," said an official of the housing inspection station surnamed Lu, the newspaper reported.

He said the fact that there were no pilings when the buildings were constructed may have caused the leaning effect, and the inspection station would issue a test report this week and propose rectification plans.

However, Lu said it may take six months of monitoring to determine the long-term safety of the gradually sinking buildings. The buildings reportedly remain stable after five months of observation.

The construction of the four six-story buildings of the Dongfeng residential community was completed in 1995 and residents first began to notice the leaning 13 years ago.

The leaning became more obvious in recent years, with the top of the No.28 building now about 30 centimeters lower than a nearby upright building.

"Of course the buildings are in danger," the report quoted an official with the township's planning and environmental protection office.


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