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June 23, 2011

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City search for dangerous store signs

OFFICIALS are to launch a citywide search for dangerous store signs and billboards in the wake of an accident in which 12 people were injured by a falling sign on Tuesday.

Most of the injured were in stable condition yesterday, but one person was still critical in a Putuo District hospital.

Li Weijun, deputy director of the greenery bureau of Putuo District, where the accident occurred, said officials will complete inspections before the typhoon season in July and August.

Inspectors will target store signs and billboards that are old and in bad repair, that are too large, are hung too high or are in places susceptible to winds, the bureau said.

Where appropriate, shops will be required to repair signs, while billboards deemed unsafe will be removed immediately, the watchdog added.

Officials from the greenery bureau, along with the district's urban management team and two testing experts, began the inspection on Zhongshan Road N1yesterday afternoon.

This focused on the overall structure, the materials used and joints where boards are linked to the ground, wall or building.

However, it is difficult to judge if a sign is safe until collected data is analyzed, said a technical expert surnamed Xu.

Xu suggested that shops should provide draft drawings of signs and billboards, as this could speed up testing procedures.

But most business vendors said they didn't keep these records once construction work was complete.

"Stores are frequently renovated so illegal shop signs spring up here and there, which is hard to spot," said an official with the bureau.

"Besides, shop owners are not obliged to inform the authorities for approval once a sign is set up."

Shen Henggen, a engineering professor at Donghua University, said signs that are too heavy or are attached to brick walls are particularly vulnerable.


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