Tragedy families mulling payout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am

Higher compensation may be sought by the parents of two girls involved in a fatal roof collapse at a shopping mall in Dongguan on Sunday.

Hongkonger Wong Bo-yan, 13, was killed by a falling crossbeam in the accident at Baihua Square in Changping district. Her mainland cousin, eight-year-old Mo Haixin , suffered severe leg injuries.

Zhou Yaohua - party secretary of Xiaxu village, where the mall is located - said Dongguan and Changping authorities had set up a taskforce to investigate the accident. 'We already gave more than 20,000 yuan to the victims' relatives as medical fees and consolation,' he said.

Haixin's mother, Mo Xianling , said the grief-stricken family had not decided on how to negotiate with the Changping township government. 'They called us this morning, saying that we could ask for more compensation,' she said. 'But how can they compensate the dead?'

She said her daughter and niece were going to buy slippers at the mall. 'My friend drove them to the square and told me [the roof] collapsed only three seconds after they entered the shopping mall,' she said.

Haixin was rescued from the ruins an hour after the accident with broken legs. After a three-hour operation at Dongguan People's Hospital, she remains in the intensive-care unit.

Mrs Mo said the family has to wait a week for the final diagnosis. 'We do not know whether her legs can recover,' she said. 'My daughter told me she had a nightmare last night that a huge stone was on her body.'

The shopping mall was built more than 10 years ago. Mrs Mo said everybody knew it was a dilapidated building, adding the collapsed beam was several dozen metres long, but was supported only by brick walls.

'We could not understand why there was not even a single reinforced concrete pillar,' she said.