Man secretly digs out two-storey cellar under Beijing street

Illegal basement had to be filled with cement in case the ground caved in, according to newspaper report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 2:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 4:26pm

Building workers had to take emergency measures and pour cement into a two-storey basement illegally dug out next to a residential block in Beijing in case the ground gave way, according to a newspaper report.

The work came to light after officials were carrying out inspections as part of a massive crackdown on illegal building work in the capital, which has seen hundreds of structures demolished and businesses closed.

Residents had complained of illegal structures on the street next to the residential block in Xicheng district, Beijing Daily reported.

As workers were demolishing the buildings with mechanical diggers on Friday, the owner of one of the flats in the block admitted the ground in the area could cave in as he had built a basement underneath, the article said.

An official was quoted as saying: “He said, ‘don’t go there, don’t go there, it’s hollow underneath’. His voice even changed and it didn’t look like he was faking it.”

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The basement covered an area of about 100 square metres and the man was planning to use it as storage. Officials found an entrance to the cellar inside the man’s flat.

He said he had started work on the cellar five years ago and hired people to secretly dig out the basement, moving out the soil in bags. One official described the secretive building work as like ants moving house.

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Neighbours of the man, whose full name was not given, said they had no idea the underground construction work was going on near their homes.

One said the only clue was he sometimes saw people taking soil away on the back of tricycles. “I thought he was just building something on the ground,” the person said.

The district government said in a statement the man had been punished, but gave no details.

In a similar case, a man was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after he tried to dig a basement under his courtyard house in Beijing. It later collapsed and also damaged his neighbours’ homes.