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Stability declared at site of collapse

EARTH-MOVING work to shore up the ground area around the site of Saturday's fatal building collapse in Shanghai's Minhang District was finished last night and the surrounding apartment houses were declared to be structurally sound.

Meanwhile, an investigative report on what caused the nearly completed apartment building to topple, killing a worker inside, is expected to be issued tomorrow morning, government officials in Minhang District said yesterday.

"The investigation results will be released by the city government," said Chen Zhiqiang, a spokesman for Minhang District. "The city government will probably hold a press conference on the matter on Friday morning."

The investigation into what went wrong at the 13-story apartment building in the Lotus Riverside complex is being carried out by a 12-person team composed of architectural and government officials that was set up by the city government.

Investigative team members suspect the building keeled over because of an excavation project designed to create an underground garage, a source close to the probe told Shanghai Daily on Tuesday. A large amount of earth from the excavation was piled up alongside the building, and the weight of the dirt combined with heavy rain apparently caused the building's foundation to shift and the structure to tip over, the source said.

Supervisors at the construction site reported yesterday that they had warned the builders of the danger but were ignored.

The site supervisor, Shanghai Guangqi Construction Supervision Co, said it had repeatedly advised Lotus Riverside builder to remove the excavated earth.

But the builder, Shanghai Zhongxin Construction Co, ignored the warnings, Guangqi officials told the China Youth Daily.

According to officials at Guangqi, the builder could have saved up to 7 million yuan (US$1 million) by keeping the excavated earth inside the construction site. It could then be used for green spaces in the residential compound, avoiding extra costs.

The earth excavated from the unfinished garage beneath the collapsed building was piled up to 9 meters high. Its removal was completed last night, while the workers yesterday were focusing mainly on repairing a flood wall along the Dianpu Creek, which began to collapse on Friday, signaling the potential for the greater damage to follow.

Lying in the mud, the toppled building was still nearly intact and waiting to be demolished.


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