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Suspect held on charges he illegally rented row houses that collapsed in fatal accident

HONGKOU District police are holding the leader of a demolition team after the collapse of a row of houses yesterday morning that killed two men and injured three people living inside, officials said today.

The leader surnamed Dai was under police investigation on the allegation that he rented the houses, scheduled for demolition, to out-of-towners who do small businesses in the community, Hongkou police said.

Dai, 60, a native of Qidong City, Jiangsu Province, was said to enter the area with his team in 2002 and began renting the houses made vacant when their residents had been relocated for a real estate project.

The old buildings built nearly half a century ago should have been demolished after the original owners were relocated. Dai also allegedly built illegal single-story houses near the multi-story buildings to lease for a lower rents, according to the residents living in the neighboring buildings.

The building that collapsed Sunday morning comprised a three-story house and three single-story houses that had been added illegally, according to local officials. The collapse was thought to be caused by a gas explosion, perhaps from a leaking pipe.

Neighbors said a Shanghainese couple in their 70s lived in the main house while the other victims were out-of-towners who had rented the smaller houses.


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