Structural problem could be to blame for building collapse in Peñíscola that killed two

The bodies of a woman and a minor were recovered from the rubble, while one man escaped from the accident alive

Fire fighters at the site of the collapse on Thursday.
Fire fighters at the site of the collapse on Thursday.Domenech Castelló (EFE)

A fault or a defect in the structure of the building is the hypothesis being considered by technicians to explain the sudden collapse of a block of apartments on Wednesday in Peñíscola, Castellón. A total of three people were inside the flats in the Font Nova development when they suddenly crumbled. One man was rescued from the rubble, while emergency crews located the bodies of a minor and a woman.

According to sources from the investigation, the failure of a wall in the center of the structure caused a domino effect: once it had fallen, the others followed. The technicians are also studying whether the load-bearing system in the apartments was sufficient to hold up the three floors of the structure.

What’s more, there was heavy rainfall on Tuesday of up to 60 liters per square foot in just 40 minutes. This may also have played a role in the collapse.

The building plans were filed with the local council in Peñíscola, in the Valencia region, back in 1989, a few years before the construction was completed.

“What has happened is, for a reason still to be determined, one of the walls has lost its rigidity, probably because the foundations gave way, but this will not be known until the site is cleared,” explained Alberto Rubio, the general director of quality and reconstruction at the Valencia regional government.

On Thursday morning, rescue crews recovered the body of a teenage boy. By 6.15pm they had also located the corpse of the missing woman after calling her cellphone and following the sound of it ringing. Sniffer dogs were also employed to ensure that there were no more people trapped in the rubble.

Both the young man rescued alive from the site and the two victims were living in the same house. The survivor is the son of the woman, while the minor who died was the son of her partner.

The regional premier of Valencia, Ximo Puig, traveled to the site to personally inspect the operation, and to thank the more than a hundred firefighters, civil guards, and police and civil protection officers who were on the scene. Those who had lost their homes in the collapse were also offered help to find accommodation.

The local council in Peñíscola has called a minute of silence for 12pm today, Friday, in honor of the two victims of the collapse. The mayor, Andrés Martínez, has also declared official mourning for “this tragedy that has brought such pain not just to the relatives and friends of the people affected but also to all of us who live in this area.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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