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November 20, 2009

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TV tower collapse: 8 charged

EIGHT people, including three local radio and television administration officials and two contractors, have been charged with negligence and giving and taking bribes after a TV tower broke apart in a rainstorm three months ago in northern China's Hebei Province.

The landmark tower in Jinzhou City was under construction when it broke into three parts on July 23, yesterday's Hebei Daily reported. The 186.8-meter tower suffered fractures to its steel structure at 56 meters and 70 meters.

The Jinzhou Radio and Television Administration's former director surnamed Yang and its former vice director surnamed Shi were charged with taking bribes from unlicensed contractors to have them carry out the construction project, the report said, citing prosecutors from Chang'an District People's Procuratorate in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei's capital.


Yang allegedly took 10,000 yuan (US$1,464) while Shi is said to have taken 25,000 yuan.

They, along with another vice administration director surnamed Liu, were also charged with negligence in regard to the quality of the tower.

Also charged were unlicensed contractors surnamed Li and Xue, who had managed to win the tower construction project by cheating in the public bidding after bribing Yang and Shi from September 2007 to July 2009.

They took part in the bidding posing as another qualified company.

Shi, aware of the trick, continued to sign the TV tower construction contracts with Li and Xue. He also agreed to sign three copies of the contract, each with different prices, the report quoted prosecutors as saying.

The other three suspects charged were not identified by the report.

Li and Xue used subquality designs, substandard materials and unqualified farmers to construct the tower, resulting in the tower's collapse and a subsequent economic loss of 2.75 million yuan, according to prosecutors.

Liu, who was vice chief of the construction project, failed to have the two correct any problems.

Yang had hired a company to supervise construction but that company, which was also unlicensed, had failed to detect the problems or take effective measures to improve them.

With a total investment of more than 3.2 million yuan, construction of the tower experienced numerous delays. It was to have been completed in February, earlier reports said.


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