Published On: Fri, May 19th, 2017

22 injured, many buried under debris

A five-storey car park under construction in Wellawatte collapsed yesterday morning as rains lashed the area, injuring over 22 workers at the site and trapping several others under mounds of debris.

The multilevel car park attached to a reception hall adjacent to a popular…… cinema in Wellawatte, had been providing parking space for the public for several years and was adding several new levels to the building.

The incident that occurred around 10 a.m. involved the collapse of three storeys of the building, including the fifth floor which was under construction, which came crashing into the first level of the building. Several workers at the site said it was the right side of the building that collapsed and this enabled them to make a safe exit out of the left side of the building.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

Police said some of the many workers trapped under the rubble had been rescued and dispatched to hospital for treatment. At the time of writing an unconfirmed number of people were reportedly trapped under the debris.

Eyewitnesses claimed that there were over 50 labourers on the side in addition to staff members at the reception hall when the building collapsed. Several school vans and other vehicles were also parked at the site and had been badly damaged.

Officials of the adjacent cinema complained the media that the construction of the building had been poorly managed. On many occasions debris from the construction had fallen on private property. Despite many complaints, the owners of the building being constructed had not paid any attention to bringing the construction up to standards.

Police and Military forces personnel were deployed to assist the Fire Brigade in rescue operations. SLAF Spokesman Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne speaking to Ceylon Today said that 22 Air Force personnel has been deployed on the rescue mission. Military Spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne noted that 10 Army and 100 Navy personnel had been deployed on the search and rescue operation.

The immediate vicinity of the construction site was cordoned off due to the risk of other floors collapsing too.

A team from the Disaster Management Centre was also at the scene to assist in rescue efforts. The Director of the DMC of the Colombo District K.N. Perera said inspections are being carried out in the area where the building collapsed and advised the public against approaching the site.

Colombo South Teaching Hospital Director Dr. Asela Gunawardena said that none of the victims had sustained critical injuries.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Director of the National Hospital, told Ceylon Today that most of the patients were suffering from blunt force trauma injuries caused in the accident.

Police Headquarters told Ceylon Today that investigations into the incident are underway and attempts were being made to contact the owners of the building.

Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganesan who was also at the site said he was deeply ashamed that such an incident occurred in his neighbourhood. He emphasized that the Urban Development Authority and the Colombo Municipal Council should acknowledge responsibility for this incident that was obviously a reflection of poor management and supervision.

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