The Malta Independent 25 May 2019, Saturday

Updated (2): Watch - The day after Guardamangia collapse: Commotion as debris removed

Thursday, 25 April 2019, 10:26 Last update: about 30 days ago

Guardamangia residents who lost their property after it collapsed on Wednesday evening spent the right at relatives, wondering what their future beholds.

While thanking their lucky stars that none of them were hurt as the building cracked and came tumbling down, they now find themselves with no roof over their heads and no other belongings except for the clothes they are wearing.

"This was my home for 49 years and now everything is lost," said one resident. The residents gathered together behind the barriers a few steps away from their homes which collapsed late Wednesday evening.

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A resident explained that their property took only a few minutes to fall apart, and they escaped with rubble all around them. "We have nothing left, I was lucky to grab my phone, everything else is gone." The residents are grateful for all the neighbours, police, and Civil Service protection who helped them and that they are still alive.

There was also some commotion when debris started being removed in the afternoon, angering the residents who were not given the opportunity to see whether they could save any of their belongings (video).

A truck which was parked beneath the building, and which was damaged by the rubble, was also removed.

One resident said: “When I saw it on television this morning, I cried in horror seeing what was happening to our flat.” They said they were lucky to still be awake, because otherwise they would have been underneath the rubble of their property.

They told the media which gathered in Guardamangia Hill this morning that they heard a loud noise, realised what was taking place and rushed out of the building, making it in time before they saw it crumbling before their eyes.

Residents said that the day before the incident they had complained to the police regarding the numerous cracks that were showing. There were also three architects that had come and taken pictures and that they had also complained to them.

In a statement in the afternoon, the government said that it is collecting information from all entities concerned while a police investigation is ongoing.

From information gathered, the Building Regulations Office said that the contractor employed on the development adjacent to the building which collapsed had submitted all required documentation. No complaints had been lodged about the development, the statement said.

The Housing Authority is collecting information about the families who lost their residence and is ready to offer alternative accommodation if needed.

BRO officials are also assessing the situation for security issues, the statement said.

A Transport Malta office which lies beneath the building was closed this morning and prospective drivers who turned up for their tests to obtain a licence were told that they will have to come another day.

In a statement issued in the afternoon - that is hours after the first theory tests were supposed to start - Transport Malta said it is temporary suspending the driving licence theory tests since the theory testing centre is part of the block which collapsed. 

The authority said it is establishing an alternative site for the theory tests.  Clients will be informed with new dates and place of the theory tests. This service will resume on Thursday 2 May 2019, TM said.

During the morning the police were seen cordoning off the area and keeping people away from the rubble as it was feared that other parts of the building might suffer the same fate. Officers also requested employees at the RMF offices, situated next to the collapsed block, to evacuate the building after a big crack was noticed in a wall. 

There are also concerns about the building on the other side of the gaping hole where excavation took place.

One resident who was inside at the time of the collapse said reports had been filed with the police but nothing was done.

“We could feel the buildings vibrate all day long while the excavation was taking place,” one resident said. “We’re lucky it happened at a time when most of us were still awake. I don’t know what would have happened if we had been asleep.”

Residents in the area say that there are a number of construction projects taking place at the same time in the area.

They say they fear that once the hype about the incident is over they will be forgotten.

“We’ve lost everything, overnight,” one emotional resident said. “Now what are we going to do?”

One of the residents who lost his property after a Guardamangia block of apartments collapsed on Wednesday told The Malta Independent that the developer of the site which is under construction had offered him alternative accommodation.

 

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