Shanghai fire survivors weigh lawsuit

A total 16 out of 162 families who survived last year’s deadly Shanghai high-rise fire have accepted either cash compensation or a new apartment made available to them by 2015 at the latest, the Shanghai-based Labor Daily reported on Tuesday.

Families who had agreed to cash compensation would receive 51,000 yuan ($7,854) per square meter for their destroyed Jiaozhou Road homes from the Jing’an Construction Company officially held responsible for the November 15 fire, according to a compensation proposal handed out to residents by Shanghai authorities in May.

The proposal also offered a new apartment to residents near the burnt building in Jing’an district, but the housing would only become available when construction work is expected to finish – in three and a half years.

For residents seeking a return to their old homes, the company could pay for renovation on top of its cash compensation at 15,300 yuan per square meter.

Most residents of the destroyed 28-story building are dissatisfied with the offer, a fire victim who requested anonymity told the Global Times.

“Only a small number of the residents signed a contract with the company in the last two months,” she said. “Among those who accepted offers, several are staff members of the Shanghai Metro Group Company living on the fourth floor of the building.”

Their apartments had been given them by their company and were unfurnished, she explained.

“I really want to get back to my normal life so I actually began looking for an apartment six months ago, but the 4 million yuan cash compensation is not nearly enough to buy a new two-bedroom apartment in Jing’an district similar to my old one.”

Some 97 families have signed a contract with the company for temporary resettlement compensation as of July 20, Labor Daily reported.

The company will subsidize their temporary residence rent at a rate of 70 yuan per square meter based on the size of their old homes, according to the agreement.

Many residents have lost faith in the process, Wang Hong, a resident who lost his mother and wife to the fire, told the Global Times on Tuesday. They are considering suing the Jing’an district government, he said.

Shanghai Jing’an district government spokeswoman Chen Jia refused to comment on any lawsuit when reached by the Global Times on Tuesday.

Global Times

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