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February 23, 2011

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Compensation timetable for blaze block residents

RESIDENTS who survived the inferno that gutted a downtown high-rise last November have finally been given a timetable for government compensation.

They gathered yesterday at the shell of the 28-story building at Jiaozhou Road to mark the 100th day since the November 15 blaze that claimed 58 lives and left 71 people injured.

Residents said they'd been informed that an initial plan for real estate compensation should be drafted by the end of next month.

But it was still unclear when the evaluation of property inside the burnt out apartments in Jing'an District will be started.

So far, only a few families of the dead had signed up for the 960,000 yuan (US$145,930) compensation promised last year.

Jing'an District government said it would offer the highest possible compensation to victims, without specifying figures.

Around 100 relatives of the dead gathered at 2pm yesterday They left flowers at the wall surrounding the building and burned paper offerings, weeping silently as they mourned loved ones.

"I still believe the government," said Chen Weizhong, who lost his 24-year-old daughter in the fire. "I miss my daughter so much and it's very difficult for me to get through the pain."

Amid the sorrow, there was criticism of the way the aftermath of the tragedy had been handled.

"We hope our voices will be treated more seriously and sincerely," said a resident surnamed Wang, whose mother and wife died in the fire.

Wang said their burnt apartments had been robbed, adding more pain to victims. "We've reported the cases, but they're not investigating," Wang claimed. "I'm so disappointed."

Dozens of plainclothes government officials were present yesterday afternoon due to security concerns but there were no disturbances.


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