Probe into China building collapse

The 13-storey building toppled over almost intact on Saturday [Reuters]

(AL JAZEERA)   Nine people have been detained and urgent safety checks ordered after a nearly finished 13-storey apartment block collapsed in the Chinese city of Shanghai, state media has said.

The city government has ordered checks at other construction sites after Saturday’s incident in which the building at the Lotus Riverside apartment complex toppled over almost intact, killing one worker.

Reports on the city government’s website said nine employees of the real estate developer, the contractor and the supervisor for the project had been put “under control” and the developer’s bank account had been frozen.

Safety checks

Shanghai officials issued a notice requiring work safety checks at all construction projects in the city, with top officials warning of severe punishment for those responsible for the building’s collapse.

An initial probe suggests digging under the building caused its collapse [Reuters]

Initial investigations found that the building – one of 11 in the complex – fell over after workers dug underneath it to install an underground garage.

Earth removed from under the building and dumped in a landfill area nearby had caused the bank of the river next to the complex to collapse, the state-run Shanghai Daily reported.

Home buyers who had paid about $2,100 a square metre and had been preparing to move in, are now demanding their money back.

China’s construction sector has long been plagued with quality problems and the collapse of bridges, highways and buildings have often been linked to corruption, as officials and contractors skimp on construction materials or issue approvals without proper inspections.

Heavy casualties among students whose school buildings collapsed during last year’s earthquake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province raised complaints from parents and others who accused builders of cutting corners to boost profits.

In a separate incident in northeast China early on Monday, vehicles were sent plunging into a river after part of a road bridge caved in.

Zhang Yang, the mayor of Tieli, the city in Heilongjiang province where the bridge collapsed, said rescuers had saved all 16 drivers and passengers from the seven vehicles that fell into the river.

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