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Criminal counts likely after deadly collapse

THOSE responsible for the fatal building collapse in Minhang District in June face criminal charges, while related companies have lost their licenses and been fined the maximum amount allowable.

Six people have been detained pending criminal charges, seven more are out on bail and six companies have been penalized in the wake of the June 27 collapse.

Three government officials involved in construction and work-safety procedures in the district have received disciplinary action.

After doing 293 interviews in the past three weeks, the investigative team set up by the city government said in a news briefing yesterday that the facts of the accident were clear.

Errors in construction procedures were the main cause for the collapse of the 13-story building in the Lotus Riverside project on Lianhua Road where one worker was killed, the investigators said.

Construction on the 10 remaining 13-story buildings in the same complex has been suspended since then for safety evaluation.

Xie Liming, director of the Shanghai Work Safety Administration, said that at the ill-fated building, workers piled excavated earth up to 10 meters high on the north side while digging a 4.6-meter underground garage on the south side.

The pressure moved the foundations horizontally and they were unable to support the building.

"Poor management, inspection and safety measures and irregular practices are closely tied to the building's collapse," Xie said.

The complex developer, Meidu Real Estate Co Ltd, and builder, Zhongxin Construction Co Ltd, were named as the two most responsible companies. Each was fined the maximum 500,000 yuan (US$73,206) and had their licenses revoked.

Problems ignored

The earth-digging and removal firm, Suotu Removal Co, was fined 300,000 yuan and the pit-construction and management firm, Shengteng Construction Co, was fined 200,000 yuan.

The engineering inspector, Guangqi Construction Supervision Co Ltd, also had its license removed as it failed to report problems on the site.

The company doing reconnaissance and survey work, Xieli, the one least liable, was "severely criticized."

Seven people, including Zhang Zhiqin, legal representative of the Meidu company, and Zhang Yaojie, legal representative of the Zhongxin firm, may face charges over being directly responsible for the accident.

Another eight people, including Wang Jinquan from the safety-inspection company, and Wang Yongfu, from the earth-removal company, have received penalties including loss of professional licenses, dismissal and fines.

The deputy director of Minhang District, Lian Zhenghua, received an official warning, while the director of Meilong Town, Shi Baoqi, and his deputy, Zhou Liang, received a record of demerit in the Party over negligence.

"The government and industry should draw a lesson from the accident and improve management and self-discipline in every aspect of real estate projects," Xie said. The city would tighten the administration of real estate projects, he said.


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