Some of the homes that collapsed on Saturday. Some of the homes that collapsed on Saturday.

Over 300 affected by collapse of 89 houses

Tijuana and state authorities are working to determine what happened

Authorities in Baja California yesterday toured the Tijuana neighborhood where 89 homes were damaged last week after nearby construction destabilized the ground.

The local Civil Protection office reported that 354 people were forced to abandon their homes and live on the streets or with relatives and friends after Saturday’s incident.

The municipality opened a shelter for the victims and had planned to provide aid of 10,000 pesos (US $530) for rent but no one accepted, fearing that their possessions would be stolen if they did not stay near their homes.

Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro said the municipality will offer help in the form of legal counseling, as the upcoming litigation is shaping up to be “a long one.”

The mayor said an investigation is under way to determine in what way the construction firm was at fault before proceeding with legal action.

He was joined by Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid for a tour of the site where the latter announced the installation of a working group in which municipal and state officials will determine their responsibilities, from construction permits to oversight of the performance by the construction company, Grupo Melo.

The firm was building new houses in the hilly San Antonio de los Buenos borough, but all activity was halted Saturday after the stability of the ground around it was compromised.

Residents of the Lomas de Rubí neighborhood said the firm removed soil at the foot of the hillside and erected structures at the top. The local Secretariat of Urban Development is waiting for the results of a study by geologists so as to establish whether Grupo Melo took the necessary precautions to avoid damaging neighboring properties.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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