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Residents leave over tower block cracks
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A construction company in Chongqing that literally crossed the line when putting up a new building nearly caused the collapse of a neighboring one.

The company dug too close to the 28-floor structure, starting a small landslide and causing cracks to appear around the foundation on Friday. About 300 residents in the building have been evacuated.

Workers hired by the project's developer, Longxin Company, began supporting the slope with concrete on Saturday night and built a wooden fence around the slope at Shixiao road, Shapingba district.

"I heard a sudden rumble around 9:30 pm. Then I looked out and found the landslide had leveled a wall and steel gate," local news website Hualong quoted resident Qiu Guohua as saying.

"Remember the building that fell over in Shanghai earlier this year? No one dares to move in until experts tell us the foundations are safe," said a teenage student living in the neighboring building.

Engineers were on site yesterday determining whether the building had sunk, or if it now has the potential too.

Though no one was injured in the incident, access to the building is blocked. Some of the cracks in concrete on the ground extend up to 4 cm.

Hualong reported a man surnamed Zhang as saying apartment windows were twisted or could not open.

The report said the Chongqing urban planning bureau had set up a safety perimeter around the construction area. However, the machinery apparently went over the line by 2 m, according to residents.

This loosened the soil under the lower section of the building. "People in our community told the construction crew several times not to cross the line, but they turned a deaf ear," Qiu was quoted as saying.

The report said the construction company promised each person 100 yuan (US$14) per day to help them stay elsewhere until testing is done.

Preliminary checks suggest the landslide has not endangered the building. The construction company has been urged to avoid risks.

"The slope will definitely not collapse again or pose a menace," Huang Shugang, a supervisor of the remedy team, told China Daily.

Officers of the developer, Longxin, also said some residents had thought about moving in again after experts visited on Saturday. However, researchers said a conclusion has yet to be reached.

(China Daily September 14, 2009)

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