The Malta Independent 16 July 2019, Tuesday

Updated: ‘A tragedy waiting to happen’: is another building collapse on the cards?

Albert Galea Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 09:32 Last update: about 3 months ago

Updated with more photos

Residents living in buildings adjacent to a construction site in Sliema have told The Malta Independent of their worry over cracks beginning to appear in their walls, saying that this is “a tragedy waiting to happen”.

Speaking to this newsroom, residents of two buildings in Viani Street, in Sliema, spoke of their concern at cracks which have begun to appear along the walls and floor of their home, cracks which have prompted them to recall the incident some weeks ago wherein a building collapsed into the construction site next it in Gwardamangia.

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An architect who viewed the cracks at the Sliema buildings in question late in April told the residents that they may be attributed to the ongoing excavation works at the back of the property.

The architect attributed the works as pertaining to a project which will see the construction of 104 garages across three underground levels, six ground-to-first floor maisonettes and another 66 apartments.

The architect identified significant damages to two houses on the street which included cracking, crakced stair treads, damage to paintwork due to movement in masonry slabs, and slight dislodging of masonry block-work in some areas.  The architect also found evidence of water leakage due to damage to the old water pipework serving the properties, while he also found that movement and cracking is evident on the walls dividing the back yards of the properties from the site.  

Most damage was found in the new sections of the two houses, which border on the construction site beneath and is closest to the vibrations attributed to the site.  "Cracking in the junction between the original and the added section of the properties (both properties have been enlarged inwards) is prominent", the architect wrote.

"The clients have been advised that although at the date of inspection, no imminent danger could be perceived, they should be on the look-out for an increase in cracking or any building movement as the matter may worsen. This in light that the structures in question are very old and it is unclear how they will react to sudden excessive vibrations and a variation in the neighbouring foundation levels”, the architect wrote in his report.

The residents lamented that as far as they were informed, there is still three months of digging to go at the construction site.  Indeed, the plans for the construction site note that garages will extend down to level -3.

The structural damage is getting worse on a day-by-day basis, and residents fear that if nothing is done, then a tragedy may well be waiting to happen.

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