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Kandy House collapse: multiple agencies probing incident that killed young family

FATAL COLLAPSE – At least three are dead in the collapse of a building in Kandy

ECONOMYNEXT- Multiple agencies including the Police are conducting investigations into the collapse of a five-storey house in Kandy yesterday that killed an infant and her newlywed parents.

The Urban Development Authority (UDA), National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) and the police are among the bodies probing how the plush building crashed down on its neighbours trapping and crushing the young family.

The house in the upmarket Sanghamitta Mawatha area crashed down in the early hours of Sunday morning, but the residents of the mansion appeared forewarned and had left the house before it came crashing down.

The fatalities were among the neighbours who were sleeping in on Sunday morning.

NBRO Kandy district officer Samantha Bogahapitiya said that the authorities are still not sure who should be held accountable for the incident as it was not caused by natural causes.

He said his agencies view is that the construction was carried out in a valley, and there are certain precautions to be taken in those cases which the householders have not followed.

“This disaster is identified as a construction failure,” he said.

Bogahapitiya said that the concrete in the base of the house has been exposed three months ago by a 70-year-old stream that runs down the slope from the Udawattakelle Sanctuary by the side of the house.

He added generally a householder who owns a house like this should check if such a condition exists at least once a year, which they have failed to do.

Meanwhile, some of the officials of the Kandy Municipal Council who had visited the site told our correspondent that they observed that 9mm thick steel pipes had been used to build concrete pillars which are not strong enough to hold a 5 storey building.

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Director of Landslide Research and Risk Management Division of NBRO R.M.S. Bandara in an interview with a private media channel said that the investigation has revealed the said house was constructed stage-wise over a period of time since 2006 when its initial base was built.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of NBRO Dr Asiri Karunawardena who also attended the interview said every construction plan should be approved by an accredited engineer, in such a scenario the engineer has the responsibility to check whether his approved plan is being followed properly.

“So the engineer who approved the plan should take responsibility for this incident,” he added. (Colombo/Sept21/2020)