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August 6, 2009

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Bulldozers move in to clean up Minhang building that toppled

CONSTRUCTION crews began work yesterday on cleaning up the Minhang District site where a 13-story building toppled nearly six weeks ago, killing a worker who was inside at the time.

The Shanghai Construction Group, which is a major player in the city's infrastructure development, was given the task of clearing the debris at the Lotus Riverside apartment complex. Six bulldozers began the removal work around noon.

The Minhang government announced last Friday that Shenzhen-based real estate giant Vanke had taken over further construction, sales and refunds related to the building collapse after the complex's original developer, Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Co, was shut down while an investigation into the June 27 mishap continues.

Though owners of apartment in the collapsed building are still negotiating settlements, Vanke offered three compensation options to buyers of the remaining buildings in the complex.

The government-mediated plan features either a 5 percent price reduction for continuing a sales contract, a full refund plus interest for terminating the contract or selling the apartment to Vanke for the market price at the time of collapse.

There are 11 13-story buildings in the Lotus Riverside complex, with apartments ranging from 66 to 128 square meters. Nearly 490 of the development's 629 apartments had been sold, at an average price of 14,297 yuan (US$2,092) per square meter, by the time of the collapse.

The accident was blamed on improper earth removal and excavation of an underground garage.

Complex developer Shanghai Meidu and builder Zhongxin Construction Co Ltd were fined the maximum 500,000 yuan and had their licenses revoked.

Shanghai Vanke said last Saturday that it might acquire Meidu if the developer could not proceed with the Lotus Riverside project.

So far six people, including the legal representatives of the developer and the builder, have been detained by police and may face charges over the accident.

Another seven, including the heads of the safety inspection and earth-removing companies, were freed on bail to assist in the inquiries. None of them were government officials.

The deputy director of the Minhang District government, Lian Zhenghua, received a warning, while the director of Meilong Town, Shi Baoqi, and his deputy, Zhou Liang, received demerits on their Party records for negligence.


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