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April 7, 2011

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Fears for building as eatery digs illegal basement

A RESTAURANT that illegally dug out a basement in a residential building in order to expand was told yesterday to refill it within five days by Baoshan District officials after residents complained.

Residents on Gonghexin Road awoke on Tuesday terrified that an "earthquake" had struck the city, only to find a bulldozer removing piles of earth after the ground-floor restaurant tried to expand illegally. The bulldozer made the seven-floor building shake and tilt, according to residents.

The building's load bearing wall was exposed to open air while water and mud flooded into the basement as workers had damaged water pipes beneath the building.

Residents living in the building, which has 14 households, complained to Shanghai Daily that the building started to tilt and that their apartment walls now had cracks. They blamed their "bad neighbor" on the first floor, who rented out the apartment to a restaurant.

The restaurant owner, who wanted to develop the ground floor apartment into a two-floor restaurant, hired a team of construction workers and even a bulldozer on Tuesday to illegally construct the basement by digging about two meters deep into the ground, according to residents.

"I woke up early in the morning as the building shook like it was an earthquake," said 69-year-old resident Yi Zhitao. "I was shocked to see a bulldozer removing piles of earth dug out from the basement."

Yesterday, the workers had started refilling the basement with concrete after they feared the building might collapse and that water from broken pipes might flood the whole room.

A Shanghai Daily investigation found other ground floor restaurants along the street have also illegally dug basements for expansion, putting many residents at risk.

Officials from the Baoshan housing law enforcement team said if the basement wasn't refilled within five days, it would send its own construction team to do the job because the restaurant had violated the law.


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