Tijuana houses damaged by Saturday's slide. Tijuana houses damaged by Saturday's slide.

Construction halted after houses collapse

Project in Tijuana destabilizes ground; 70 houses collapse in slide

Unstable ground at a construction project in Tijuana, Baja California, caused the collapse on Saturday of 70 homes, leaving at least 51 families on the street.

The construction firm Grupo Melo is building new houses in the hilly San Antonio de los Buenos borough but the work has inadvertently affected the stability of the ground in the area.

The local Civil Protection office was aware of the problem and warned residents as early as January 23.

Civil Protection chief José Rito Portugal Servín de la Mora said homeowners had been informed that their properties “were uninhabitable,” but few opted to evacuate.

“Many people don’t understand or learn; instead of leaving they took selfies, thinking it was an amusement park,” he said.

On Friday, municipal authorities met with the construction company and the residents whose houses were at risk, reaching an agreement that Grupo Melo would attempt to stabilize the affected hillside by building a retaining wall.

The resolution was too little, too late, and the next day the earth gave way, causing a slide that knocked down the 70 dwellings. No casualties were reported.

Construction was halted after the slide and a meeting is set for tomorrow to determine how to mitigate the damage, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum said.

For the time being, a shelter has been opened for the affected families, and the municipality has offered its help to transport homeowners’ belongings to a safe location due to concerns about looting.

The area is being patrolled by municipal police, who have foiled one attempted robbery, the mayor said.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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