Rescue workers going through the rubble at the site of the 24-story apartment block that collapsed in Medellin on Saturday have found a dead body. The whole complex has now been evacuated after the tower adjoining the one that collapsed also threatened to come down.
The first casualty of the collapse was confirmed on Sunday afternoon by Claudia Restrepo of the mayor’s office of Colombia’s second-largest city. The body was found between the third and fourth floor of the collapsed building. The body has not yet been removed from the wreckage because rescue teams cannot move the wall pinning him down. As a result, the identity of the victim has not yet been confirmed.
Tower 6 of the brand-new “Space” apartment complex, located in the wealthy neighborhood of Poblado, was evacuated on Friday after the building shook and cracks appeared in the walls.
Ten constuction workers sent in to assess the problem and make repairs were buried when the tower collapsed on Saturday night just before 8:20PM. A resident was also buried. Two others, Jader Lopera and Jesus Adrian Colorado, were seriously injured and were immediately taken to hospital. Reports suggest that Colorado will be paralyzed.
All of the towers have now been evacuated after Tower 5 threatened to come down. Within the space of 24 hours it moved 8cm, according to Diego Restrepo Isaza, the director of Medellin’s social housing organization Isvimed.
He told local newspaper El Colombiano that it was highly probable that Tower 5 would have to be demolished, contradicting claims by construction company CDO – builders of the ‘Space’ complex – who stated on Saturday that there was no risk of the other towers collapsing.
They also said that the collapse of the tower owed to a failure in a concrete pillar on the fourth floor.
At 10AM on Monday a meeting will be held by the Technical Board to discuss the rescue operations and decide the fate of Tower 5. If it is demolished, it will not happen until all the missing bodies have been found. The family of the missing have been invited to the meeting.
The evacutation has now affected 103 families, as well as the 24 families first evacuated on Friday from Tower 6. On Sunday, CDO offered $1800 for a month’s rent to each of the families affected.
Six pets were rescued on Monday morning from Towers 1,2,3 and 4. But attempts to remove the rubble have been hampered by the weather, with rescue workers accompanied by four sniffer dogs unable to work during torrential rain on Sunday night.
La buena noticia de esta madrugada fue el rescate de las mascotas atrapadas en los apartamentos del conjunto Space. pic.twitter.com/rOqnioDnFZ
— ElColombiano (@elcolombiano) October 14, 2013
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Sunday that “there are more than 140 rescue workers that are working with heavy machinery and who will not stop until all the missing persons have been found and identified.”
The families of the missing workers have all but lost hope. “We expect the worst,” said Marisol Arango, sister of James Arango, a welder with a one-year-old son buried in the rubble. “It’s really hard. This is a big tragedy.”
The Space apartment complex was completed earlier this year with apartments valued between $100,000 and $265,000.
Location of the tragedy
- Confirman primera víctima fatal en edificio colapsado en Medellín (El Espectador)
- Tragedia en Space – minuto a minuto (El Colombiano)
- Evacuación extendida ante el riesgo de colapso de la torre 5 (El Colombiano)
- Constructora ofrece $3’500.000 para pagar un mes de arriendo (El Colombiano)
- James y Ricardo estaban en Space por ser dos de los mejores trabajadores (El Colombiano)
- Estos son los desaparecidos en Space (El Colombiano)
- Suspenden labores de búsqueda en edificio Space de Medellín (El Espectador)