Shanghai construction disaster leads to arrests

Original source:

Shanghai authorities have announced that they are holding nine people in an investigation into why a nearly completed block of flats collapsed, killing one worker.

The incident on Saturday was an embarrassment for Shanghai's leaders as they prepare to showcase the city - one of China's wealthiest and the most modern - during the 2010 World Expo.

Reports on the city government's website said that nine employees of the real-estate developer, the contractor and the supervisor for the Lotus Riverside apartment complex had been put 'under control' and the developer's bank account frozen as home buyers demanded their money back.

Safety checks have been ordered at other construction sites in the booming city.

China's construction sector has long been plagued with quality problems.

Collapses of bridges, highways and buildings in China have often been linked to endemic corruption, as officials and contractors skimp on construction materials or issue approvals without proper inspections.

An opinion piece published in Chinese state media yesterday observed that 'some local governments, which depend on the property market for their revenue, have clearly not followed due procedure in approving and supervising construction projects.

'Given this situation, the building collapse in Shanghai may not be that accidental,' it said.

Meanwhile, rescuers searched a river in north-east China after part of a bridge caved in, sending vehicles plunging into the water.

Rescuers saved all 16 drivers and passengers on seven vehicles that fell into the river in Tieli, Heilongjiang province.