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Non-compliant constructions?

Why did some buildings collapse when they were supposed to have been built under improved construction regulations?
Rescue efforts in collapsed building - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
21/09/2017
09:00
exico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Tragedies help us discover areas for improvement. There is a before and after the 1985 earthquake which caused the implementation of enhanced and revised civil protection guidelines and construction regulations in Mexico City, regulations which other Mexican cities have also implemented. 

The achievements made are visible. New generations are better prepared to react adequately during earthquake emergencies, and skyscrapers built in recent years have withstood the recent seismic activity without problems.

Moreover, beyond the establishment of new guidelines in several areas of public politics, tragedies have also unveiled the possible work of corrupt politicians.

Several of the collapsed buildings in Mexico City are likely to be evidence of construction non-compliances since some of those buildings were built after 1985, under more stringent specifications and requirements. How many buildings collapsed because public officials – unintentionally or deliberately – approved non-compliant construction projects?

After the earthquake last September 7, it was said Mexico City had passed the test, seeing there were minimal damages after the 8.1 magnitude quake. Yet experts said the lack of damages was due to the epicenter being hundreds of kilometers away from Mexico City.

This time, the magnitude, although considerable, was less than the previous earthquake but the epicenter was just 120 km from the capital city.

It's true that collapses only happened in specific areas and that the tragedy could have been worse. Therefore, the question is bound to be asked: why did only a few buildings collapse? Why an elementary school of barely three stories high among them? Was there negligence, conspiracy, or an oversight during the approval of the construction projects?

The city has lived a real estate boom in recent years. Condominium construction companies are, in theory, adhering to tougher requirements which entered into force and effect in 2004. The authorities with the corresponding jurisdiction should be more exacting during compliance verification. Unapproved constructions today will translate into less fatal victims in future emergencies.

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