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Officials sacked over deadly Nov 15 high-rise fire

SEVERAL Jing'an District officials, including District Mayor Zhang Renliang, have been sacked for their responsibilities in a deadly high-rise fire last November that claimed 58 lives. Shanghai Vice Mayor Shen Jun, who is in charge of construction, also received a major demerit. So did Huang Rong, director of the Shanghai Construction and Transport Commission. Jing'an District Party Secretary Gong Deqing was disciplined as well. The blaze, caused by unlicensed welders, spread rapidly through scaffolding to the entire 28-storey residential high-rise on Jiaozhou Road on November 15 last year, causing heavy loss of lives and properties. The fire was fed by inflammable insulating materials used in the facelift project. Lack of quality control and safety supervision were blamed for the tragedy. Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng pledged earlier to punish those responsible for the deadly fire. Altogether 26 people responsible for the accident have been prosecuted and detained. They include Gao Weizhong, former director of Jing'an District Construction and Transport Commission, two other commission officials Zhou Jianmin and Zhang Quan, and executives of the Jing'an District Construction Group, Shanghai Jiayi Construction and Decoration Engineering Co. The State Council sent a group of investigators to Shanghai after the blaze but their investigation result hasn't been announced. So far, 46 of the 53 bodies found in the building have been cremated and one was buried according to the customs of ethnic minorities. The 156 families in the building were offered two compensation options by the Shanghai Jing'an Construction Co, which is held responsible for the fire. They would be given apartments to be built near the gutted building within three and half years, subsidies for three years at 100 yuan (US$15.42) per square meter per month based on the size of their original homes. Alternately, they can get cash compensation, about 1.5 times the price of their destroyed apartment, with the average price estimated at! 30,000 yuan per square meter. However, neither proposal satisfied those left homeless and some of them have not signed the compensation agreement yet.

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