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Owners of ill-fated complex seek relief

HUNDREDS of agitated property owners from Lotus Riverside housing development massed outside Shanghai's Minhang District government office yesterday, some yelling for refunds following the collapse last week of a 13-story apartment building.

Owners shouted "refund, plus the same amount for compensation" as they gathered at the plaza in front of the reception area, delaying a negotiation meeting which was due to start at 9am.

The meeting between owners and the developer, Shanghai Meidu Real Estate, had been organized by the local government.

It was called to included representatives of 20 owners from the toppled building and 20 representatives of the 10 remaining buildings.

"We want a house. Either pay us back so that we can buy other places or rebuild the buildings," said some owners from the unaffected structures.

The views were mixed, however, as other buyers insisted they do not live in the area any more.

"Building 7 toppled just beside ours. Even if the test results show it is safe, we dare not live there," said an owner from Building 6, a twin of the one that toppled last week and which was found to have shifted slightly.

Government officials told the negotiation meeting that compensation plans will be released early next week.

However officials advised owners they could only guarantee payments to owners of Building 7.

"It's unreasonable to ask the government to compensate as it has a responsibility to mediate," said an official, adding the judicial process would defend owners' rights.

The district government has set up a legal service area at a school in Meilong Road W., which today will start offering advice to owners.

The Shanghai Bar Association has selected 74 lawyers specialized in real estate matters to help owners.

Lawyers representing the developer will be available at Luoyang Primary School to meet owners for further negotiation. Owners of the toppled building will have priority.


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