“It was like watching what happened at Twin Towers”, “it was like a scene from a film” – G’Mangia residents
The families who lived in the apartment block which collapsed on Wednesday night in Guardamangia, as well as their neighbours, are still traumatised by what happened, which has left them with nothing. They are extremely angry because they said they have long been reporting to the authorities that the excavation next door was causing damage to their building. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the residents who have been affected would be given immediate assistance and while awaiting the conclusions of the investigations, he will ensure that if there has been any negligence, whoever was responsible would have to answer for it.
The residents of G’Mangia Hill are still under shock after they ended up on the street at around 10.20pm on Wednesday night when their block of three apartments collapsed. Next door to the block, there is a construction site where excavation is taking place. Luckily no one was injured because the three resident families managed to run out of their apartments when they felt the building, which had a number of cracks in its walls, start to give way. The apartment block is just down the road from the former St Luke’s mortuary. Located in the same building were the TM offices where the oral tests for driving licences used to take place, which, for now, have had to be suspended.
The residents said that despite weeks of reporting the cracks in their walls, no one had paid any attention to their complaints.
Carol Micallef, who lives in an apartment close by, said that when they heard the building next door collapse, she and her husband Winston ran outside wearing their pyjamas and carrying their dog. Other neighbours did the same. Rosanne Lanzon explained how her brother got out at the nick of time and he has ended up with just the clothes on his back.
“He woke up and saw that his kitchen was covered by thick fog with the dust that was coming down, like a scene from a film. The cracks were wide open and he saw the stone blocks coming down and by the time they reached the pavement, everything had collapsed. Nothing is left.”
Alan Brown who lives very close to the collapsed building said that he heard a noise and began shouting for everyone to leave the building. “All at once it was like watching what happened at the Twin Towers. Dust was everywhere and the Police were running down, I was in shock because my mother is 80 years old.”
Mara Taljana who has a two-year-old daughter, and is expecting another child, also ended up outside. Jessica Rossitto said, “I didn’t see nothing for 2 minutes, I saw police and they told me to go outside and I was very afraid”.
The collapse of the three apartments meant that the area had to be evacuated, with the Police and members of the Civil Protection Department verifying that there was no one left in the building and that everyone who used to live there was safe and sound.
Around ten minutes after the building collapsed, another noise was heard and more stones began to fall. The stones fell in the middle of the road and buried a van which was parked in front of the apartments.
PM Joseph Muscat has made it clear that full responsibility has to be shouldered for what happened and that the Government would ensure this was done.
“I have requested a report to see whether the neighbours had filed any complaints. The Housing Authority has also intervened so that these families do not suffer. We will definitely not allow a situation where the necessary responsibility is not shouldered.”
In a joint statement, the Home Affairs, Infrastructure and Family Ministries all said that apart from the ongoing Police investigation, the Government is collecting information from various authorities. It was stated that according to the Building Regulation Office, the contractor who is building the new development had submitted all the necessary documents according to law. It was also stated that according to this office, no reports against the contractor had been filed by the neighbours.
Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia said that the necessary monitoring is taking place so that the other building which is next to the excavation is insured for any possible dangers.
Housing Authority offers assistance to the families affected by apartment demolition in Guardamanġia