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Wreckage in today's collapse of part of a building in Mexico City. Wreckage in today's collapse of part of a building in Mexico City.

No casualties after Mexico City commercial center collapse

Retaining wall fell due to accumulation of water

A section of a new commercial center in a southern neighborhood of Mexico City collapsed today but there have been no reports of casualties.

Civil Protection Secretary Fausto Lugo said that the partial collapse of the Artz Pedregal Commercial Plaza, located on the Periférico Sur ring road in Jardines de Pedregal, was caused by a structural fault.

“What happened is that a retaining wall collapsed . . . It was mainly due to an accumulation of water from a crack in a pipe that ran across the top of the wall,” he said.

Lugo said there were no casualties and no one had been trapped in the rubble, adding that the collapse didn’t pose a risk to nearby buildings.

An investigation into the incident, which occurred just after 11:00am, is currently under way and authorities have closed the entire center as well as some lanes on the busy ring road. Authorities have warned motorists to avoid the area.

Mexico City Attorney General Edmundo Garrido said that after the city government has received expert reports and accounts from witnesses, it will seek to determine who is responsible for the structural fault and the collapse.

Garrido added that his office will summon everybody who is in any way connected to the incident to make a statement.

The center’s management said in a statement that it would fully cooperate with authorities in the investigation and that it would keep the public informed about its findings.

Rescue dogs, who were an invaluable help to authorities when searching for survivors after last September’s earthquakes, have contributed to efforts to search through the rubble in case a person who is unaccounted for is trapped.

The commercial center, which was built on land that had previously been abandoned for 30 years, opened in March. Just over half of the plaza’s space is made up of offices while most of the remaining area, including the collapsed section, houses shops.

The newspaper El Financiero reported that the 400,000-square-meter center, which includes three luxury office towers, was built by Grupo Sordo Madaleno with an investment of 4.86 billion pesos (US $256.6 million).

Video footage of the collapse was captured by people in the vicinity of the commercial center and has circulated widely today on social media and news websites.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Financiero (sp), Expansión (sp)

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