The owner of the 5 storey building that collapsed on Sunday killing 19 people has been arrested. The Daily Star reports that Lebanon’s Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told local media that Michel Saadeh is being questioned about the apartment building that once housed 50 people in the Fassouh neighborhood of Ashrafieh – one of the oldest Christian neighborhoods in Lebanon.
Lebanese American Univeristy’s Assistant Provost and Interim Dean of the School of Architecture and Design, Professor Elie A Badr told Green Prophet that it is too soon to guess at the causes and underlying circumstances that led to this disaster, but that he recalls similar incidents in the past that suggest that the country has yet to learn from its mistakes.
Built in the 1940s
The apartment building that was first erected in the 1940s came crashing down at 6 p.m. local time on Sunday. A fifteen year old girl is among the 19 dead.
Although 12 people have been pulled out of the rubble alive, Charbel told local press that it is unlikely that their search will uncover further survivors.
Beirut’s built environment has grown rapidly in the last few decades with very little urban planning and grandfathered buildings are largely neglected. This has resulted in a city that is bereft of green space, overcrowded, and increasingly dangerous.
Badr explained in an email that forensics engineers will need to conduct a failure analysis investigation in order to identify the sequence of events leading to this tragedy.
Asked whether it could have been avoided, he wrote, “YES. Anything created by Human Beings is our responsibility, and must be watched over and maintained in order to reduce, as much as possible if not eliminate, these disasters from happening.”
The necessity of legislation
The Interim Dean of LAU’s School of Architecture and Design stressed that “proper legislation should be established that accounts for inspection and rehabilitation of concerned buildings” in order to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future.
On a more general outlook, he added, Lebanon as a whole, and the city of Beirut in particular, cannot sustain this pace of development anymore without any regards to sustainability and the environment. There are short term as well as long terms measures that must be taken NOW in order to preserve the identity of our city and bring it to standards of major cities around the world. Beirut deserves much much More.
In the meantime, The Daily Star reports that “Phalange Party MP Nadim Gemayel urged Prime Minister Najib Mikati in his capacity as supervisor of the Higher Relief Council to expedite compensation payments for victims’ families and secure housing.”
The views expressed by Dr. Badr are his own and do not reflect those of LAU.
image via The State
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