The apartment building at 56 Zapata. The apartment building at 56 Zapata.

Builder accused of negligent homicide

More arrests coming as city goes after builders of structures that fell in earthquake

Officials in Mexico City have arrested the builder of an apartment block that collapsed during the September 19 earthquake and accused him of negligent homicide.

The 56-year-old man, who was not identified, was not only a principal of the construction firm that erected the building at 56 Zapata in the Portales neighborhood of the Benito Juárez borough, but the director responsible for construction, or DRO, who is legally responsible for a project’s structural integrity.

Two people died when part of the five-year-old multi-story building collapsed.

Mexico City Attorney General Edmundo Garrido said investigators found details in the building’s structural calculations report, an accounting of how the project was built, didn’t coincide with the structural plans and the foundations did not correspond to the specifications in the soil mechanics study.

Steelwork and other factors were not sufficient support the building and there was no certificate of structural safety, Garrido told a press conference yesterday.

Although he did not identify the builder, it has been reported previously that it was Canada Building Systems, a Mexican firm that utilizes Canadian construction methods.

Garrido said more arrests are coming.

A report earlier this month by El Universal identified the DRO as Juan Duay Huerta, who said in an interview that the building was constructed with materials of high quality and that he had laboratory studies to prove it.

He was responding to claims by borough officials that the building fell because of poor-quality materials.

Meanwhile, owners of the apartments have been conducting an investigation of their own. They said yesterday they are spending 75,000 pesos (US $3,900) on an exhaustive study to determine who was responsible for the building’s collapse.

Construction materials will be tested and analyzed to verify their quality.

Source: Reforma (sp), El Universal (sp)

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