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October 28, 2011

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Road section collapses into 5-meter long hole

A large piece of road surface in a busy downtown intersection collapsed suddenly yesterday in Shanghai, severely disrupting traffic but causing no injuries.

The local urban facility maintenance department said that loose sand and soil beneath the road likely was to blame. Workers were still doing the repair work yesterday afternoon.

The collapse was spotted about noon at Hengfeng Road and Chang'an Road, near the Shanghai Railway Station.

"Just in a glimpse, the road surface disappeared," said a witness, surnamed Zhang.

The hole, about 10 square meters and located in the middle of the intersection, was about 2 meters deep.

Police said no vehicle was passing by when the collapse occurred. Two lanes were closed to traffic with officers guiding the vehicle flow.

Officials with Zhabei District's work maintenance company said the area "has long been bothered by poor geological conditions."

The road surface was just paved with new asphalt on Wednesday night to cover a depressed area of the road, about 25-centimeters deep, detected earlier.

It's suspected that an underground wastewater pipeline broke and the water carried dirt and sand away, undermining the road.

Lots of problems

"It never occurred to us that it would collapse again overnight," said workers, looking at the hole and the asphalt scattered around.

Such problems, including depressions, were found earlier as several high-rise buildings, more than 20-stories high, were built around the intersection.

In the afternoon, repair began when a bulldozer broke through the surface again.

Two trucks soon arrived carrying about 50 tons of sand. Maintenance workers estimated the repair would take a day.

Shanghai, plagued by a loose earth structure, is trying to tackle the road depressions that have worsened in recent years with so many massive construction projects going on citywide. Poor construction methods and roads overloaded with vehicles combine with the natural conditions to cause the road problems, city authorities said.

A serious cave-in took place in April at the Wanda Plaza site in Baoshan District, creating a crater 20 meters long and five meters wide. Improper earth-moving could have triggered the collapse, said the city's construction watchdog.

Vice Mayor Zhang Xuebing told local lawmakers that the city "is controlling the total road-construction projects," with no more than 10 percent of the roads under reconstruction at any one time.


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