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June 20, 2011

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Warning of glass falling off sides of high-rises

LOCALS should watch out for "glass bombs" dropping from high-rises, experts warn, as summer weather increases the risk of aging glass falling from the sky.

There are between 4,000 and 5,000 buildings clad with glittering exterior decoration, including many built in the 1980s and 1990s, and high temperatures increase the risk of glass panels and windows cracking.

Ren Xianzheng, a local government advisor and member of an expert team who has just completed a public safety inspection citywide, said they had seen "alarming" safety loopholes with the glass walls on many aged high-rises.

"Some glass walls have obvious cracking marks but none of the property managers seems to be alarmed," Ren said.

Such glass walls should be completely renovated or replaced after 25 years in service, according to architectural experts.

But building developers and constructors are not legally required to perform periodic safety checks on glass walls and other exterior decorations, under current regulations.

Periodic examinations are necessary as adhesives used to attach glass gradually lose their strength.

In recent years, new buildings in Shanghai have been required to adopt exterior walls of safer and lighter materials.

Public concern escalated on May 18 when glass walls fell from three downtown buildings in a single day.


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