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Old Quarter's century-old houses near collapse

Update: November, 08/2012 - 11:12

HA NOI (VNS)— Two century-old houses at No119 and 125 Hang Bac Street in Ha Noi have been seriously degraded by construction next door, threatening the safety of residents.

This isn't the first time a building in the Old Quarter has been damaged in this fashion. Two years ago, a five-storey house in nearby Ma May Street collapsed when the neighbouring construction site damaged its foundation.

Do Thi Hien, who owns the house at No119, said that her house was recognised as a national preserved site managed by National Culture Heritage under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, so any change to the house needed to be approved by relevant authorities.

So the 200-square-metre house was practically in its original condition last month when the next-door house at No 123 was demolished.

Hien said that cracks appeared on the roof and across walls, and a coat of paint peeled off. The inhabitants of No 125 are suffering the same situation. They live in fear of their dwelling collapsing at any moment, said Le Ngoc Tuan, who owns the house.

"We are 18 people including mostly children and elderly who live in the two affected houses," Tuan said, worrying about how they would manage if the houses collapsed.

Meanwhile, the on-going construction work was licensed to have a 2.2-metre-deep ground floor.

"The construction of that ground floor, let alone the foundation, will surely affect our houses," he said, adding that the foundations of two ancient houses could not be as strong as newly-built ones.

However, Tuan said affected households had not gotten any commitment from their next-door neighbours about protective measures or compensation.

Hien's and Tuan's families reported their situation to the People's Committee of Hang Bac Ward, and a record was made.

The committee also asked the building contractor to carry out measures ensuring human safety and assets.

However, relevant parties have yet to find any long-term solution to ensure human safety and preserve the old houses. — VNS

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