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December 12, 2012

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Work on collapsed building illegal

THE four-story building that collapsed on Monday and killed three people was undergoing illegal renovation, with workers converting the former garment factory into small, low-rent apartments, an investigative report said yesterday.

Two of the three killed have been identified as a male and a female tenants living in the building. The third victim, a man, had not been identified yet - his body was not retrieved until 5:30am yesterday, officials said.

Persons who rented the building and hired the workers were in police custody.

The report published by the Shanghai Work Safety Bureau said the collapsed building on Chenhang Road was built illegally in 1983 as a three-story garment factory with a total area of 2,100 square meters.

Since then, the building had gone through several other illegal renovations.

The report said the factory was built by the No. 1 Chenhang Garment Factory, a company owned by the former Chenhang Town, but it didn't have any license or permit to build.

The company, which became the private Shanghai Dongmin Garment Co, illegally built a fourth floor in 1997, enlarging the factory to 2,800 square meters, the report said.

The building was leased in August to another company, Shanghai Jiangshen Development Co, which hired a construction team for the illegal renovation, the report said. In September, the workers started converting the former garment factory into tiny, cheap apartments by dividing each of the four floors into more than 20 rooms, the report said.

Two of the three victims in the accident have been identified as Zhou Xuming, male, a 38-year-old Anhui Province native, and Li Yanqiu, female, a 23-year-old Shandong Province native, the report said. The building collapsed about 2:37pm on Monday.

Zhou's body was found about 6:30pm on Monday. Li was found about 9:30pm and rushed to the hospital. By 11:30pm, she had been declared dead. Eight people escaped but the three were buried under 3 to 5 meters of rubble.

Witnesses said workers were smashing walls on the fourth floor with hammers and drills before the collapse.


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