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November 24, 2010

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Payouts for blaze victims

Families who lost relatives in the high-rise inferno in Shanghai's Jing'an District are to receive compensation of 960,000 yuan (US$144,470) for each victim, district official said yesterday.

The blaze claimed the lives of 22 males and 36 females.

The payments of 960,000 yuan are made up of death compensation of 650,000 yuan and help from the government and social donations totaling 310,000 yuan.

The figure will be the same for each victim no matter whether he or she had permanent residency in Shanghai, Zhang Renliang, director of Jing'an District, told reporters.

Migrant workers from other parts of the country were among the victims.

The 71 people injured and residents whose homes and properties were damaged will also be compensated based on their injuries and losses, Zhang said. "We will fully pay for residents' damaged homes according to market prices," said Zhang, who gave no details.

But some residents yesterday said they were dissatisfied with the compensation plan.

"It's unacceptable," said Chen Weizhong, who lost his 24-year-old daughter, Yi, in the fire. "Even double the compensation would not be enough to make up for what we've lost."

Chen said the market price of the apartments in the building was lower than others in the same area before the fire and it would be hard to buy a similar apartment with the compensation on offer.

"The plan is rough and there should be much more human kindness in it," Chen told Shanghai Daily. "I hope the detailed plan will be improved and that I won't have to move out of Jing'an District."

His views were echoed by another resident, surnamed Jiang, whose daughter had an apartment in the blaze-hit building but was not at home when the fire broke out.

"That seems to be the worst result in my mind," said the 67-year-old resident who was evacuated from the neighboring block.

Jiang, a retired teacher, said her daughter had bought the apartment so she could more easily care for her elderly parents.

"If she gets money according to the market standard, she won't be able to afford an apartment of the same size within a kilometer of the area." Jiang said the market value of her daughter's apartment was about 30,000 yuan per square meter while apartments in the area were selling for more than 40,000.

Many residents said they wanted to be given new apartments in Jing'an District rather than money.

Only one of the 58 people killed has yet to be identified. Blood samples from relatives in Japan are being flown to the city to confirm the identify of a Japanese man who perished.

Last week's blaze in the 28-story residential building, home to around 440 people in 156 households, also affected the other two buildings in the complex, which housed a total of around 500 families.

Safety checks on the three buildings are expected to last a week and polyurethane foam, the flammable material blamed for the quick spread of the fire, is being removed from the other two blocks, officials said.

Residents in the neighboring buildings will be allowed back home after safety checks are complete, Zhang said.


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