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March 1, 2013

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Cracks on city blocks scare residents

A CRACK 5 centimeters wide, twisting from the ground to the third floor of a residential building on downtown Maotai Road, has scared many residents who fear that the tilting building may collapse at any time.

A total of four buildings, located in the Tianshan complex in Changning District and housing hundreds of families, have started to tilt, leaving long, wide cracks in walls and rooftops of buildings after the construction of a shopping mall began last year, residents complained.

"Many residents would rather stay outside during the day in fear that it may collapse," said a resident surnamed Wang. "It's like two hands are pulling each side of the building, tearing it apart."

While he was speaking, sunlight was seen shining through the wide crack, which went across the three-story building from the ground to its top.

A resident surnamed Ji Meijuan, 74, living on the third floor, said she was terrified to see mice climbing from another crack that recently appeared on the floor of her apartment.

The crack on the floor was about 3 centimeters wide. Before Ji's son used wood to fill the crack, they could see their neighbors below them, Ji said.

"Not to mention the window and door frames. We can never completely shut the door or the windows as they no longer fit due to the tilting," said Ji.

Other residents said the buildings, constructed in the 1950s, had some small cracks before but after the construction of a shopping mall began last year, the conditions became worse.

Local neighborhood committee officials said the developer of the nearby construction site has started negotiating with the residents affected over compensation and repairs.

"The developer has promised to pay compensation to over 400 households living in the community for noise and air pollution," said Guo Jianping, an official with the committee.

The developer could not be reached for comment, but committee members said the company accepts only partial blame for the building damage. "They promised to carry out repairs to all buildings affected soon," said Guo.

The Changning District Housing Department said officials would inspect the buildings to see whether it is still safe for the residents to live there.


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