A firefighter at the construction site on Wednesday. A firefighter at the construction site on Wednesday.

Body recovered amid risk of more collapses

Woman was inside her home when it plunged 30 meters into construction site

In a delicate operation that took just over 36 hours, rescue workers last night recovered the body of a woman who was inside a house that collapsed adjacent to a construction site in Monterrey, Nuevo León.

Irma Barbosa López, 70, was one of two people who died when four houses fell 30 meters into the excavation for a 23-story office building and 10-level underground parking garage on Wednesday in the Antigua neighborhood of the city. Barbosa’s husband also died when their home collapsed.

A team of 200 rescue workers participated in the operation, using heavy machinery to cautiously remove the debris from the area while several other houses were at risk of collapsing as well.

Barbosa’s body was found seven meters below the surface of the rubble of her home, which was valued at 7 million pesos (US $377,000).

About 25 homes had already been evacuated at the time of the collapse on Wednesday, and eight of them were unstable enough to endanger the rescue operation.

Seismographs, sonar, radar and thermal cameras were employed to monitor the condition of the unstable buildings to safeguard the lives of rescue workers.

There are 118 homes in the residential development adjacent to the construction site, and many have been abandoned by residents fearing for their lives.

Homeowners raised the alarm about the construction project six weeks ago when they went to municipal authorities with reports of cracks in their houses. Civil Protection officials confirmed October 31 that houses next to the excavation were at risk and work on the project was suspended the following day.

The state human rights ombudsman announced that it has started an investigation into the incident.

Source: Milenio (sp), Vanguardia (sp)

Video shows one of four houses as it falls into the adjacent excavation.


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