The Naughties might have been the decade of the Great Rise of China. After all, they’ve built whole cities from scratch, flying trains and all kinds of crazy things. But perhaps the Teens will be the decade that New China comes crashing down due to shoddy workmanship and lax regulations—kind of like this apartment building in Shanghai did yesterday.
In the weekend’s bizarrest news, a nearly finished, newly constructed building in Shanghai toppled over, killing one worker. As can be seen in the photo below, the 13-story apartment building collapsed with just enough room to escape what would have been a far more destructive domino effect involving other structures in the 11-building complex.
A building at the Lotus Riverside complex in Shanghai’s Minhang district collapsed, nearly intact, on Saturday morning (Imaginechina via AP Images)
The development, known as “Lotus Riverside,” has a total of 629 units, 489 of which have already been sold. Now buyers are clamoring to get their money back, and authorities are making efforts to reassure them. The assets of the project’s developer, Shanghai Meidu Property Development Co., have been frozen and the city officials said the developer’s ability to repay homebuyers was secure, according to a statement on the municipal government’s Web site (in Chinese). A hotline has been set up for Lotus Riverside buyers, and by Sunday afternoon, more than half of them had met with a group of lawyers and officials organized to help them negotiate with the developer, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, the cause of the accident is under investigation and nine unidentified people from the developer, contractor and management company have been detained.
A representative of Shanghai Meidu could not be reached for comment.
The disaster could reveal some uncomfortable facts about lax construction practices in China, where buildings are put up in a hurry by largely unskilled migrant workers, and developers may be tempted to take shortcuts.
God Bless building codes and God Bless America!