Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Over 100 People Trapped in Collapsed Building in Havana

Over 100 People Trapped in Collapsed Building in Havana

14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Havana, 18 April 2017 — About 120
people are trapped in a Central Havana building after the interior
stairs to the apartments collapsed this morning.

The property, located on Amistad and San Miguel Streets has been in
danger of collapse for years due to lack of maintenance. A loud noise
alerted neighbors to the collapse of the old stairs. Police forces and
firefighters were mobilized to help the residents and to evacuate their
few belongings.

In the evening hours, the authorities installed an external elevator
through which paramedics and health personnel have accessed the
building. So far no injuries have been reported, but according to one
police officer at midday, "there are elderly among the trapped," some
with blood pressure problems.

"My cousins ​​live there. They have been complaining about the bad
condition of the stairs for five months and although the authorities
visited the place nothing was fixed," says a neighbor, indignant at the
lack of government action.

For Manuel, a man who lives on the corner of Neptune and Amistad Street,
this morning's collapse is only "the tip of the iceberg."

"Right here in San Rafael there are several buildings that are falling
apart, the government repairs the stores on the ground floors but the
apartments on are the upper floors and they fall in and no one cares,"
he added.

According to Rescue and Salvation personnel in the area, the stairs on
the third floor collapsed.

"We are waiting for the scaffolding to arrive so we can begin to remove
the people who are at risk, bit by bit to empty out the structure," said
one of the rescue workers.

A specialist from the Municipal Housing Department of Central Havana
said that they had received complaints from the residents "for years."

"The elevator doesn't work. The stairs are on the verge of collapse. The
building itself is a danger. They wanted to put the people in shelters
but we don't have the capacity in the district to shelter so many
people," she explained.

After the collapse of the stairs the electricity company cut off the
electricity and also suspended the gas service. After a "thorough
checkup," the specialists of both institutions decided to re-connect the

The Cuban authorities recognize that the housing problem is the first
social necessity in Cuba.

According to official figures 33,889 families (132,699 people) need a
roof. Most of them have spent decades in "temporary" shelters for
victims of building collapses or cyclones.

In 2012, the Census of Population and Housing showed that 60% of the 3.9
million homes on the island are in poor condition.

"There are dozens of people and even pets trapped in that building and
everything is as if nothing happened. Will we wait for Havana to
collapse to realize the serious problem we have with housing?" Yanelis,
a resident of Old Havana, said indignantly, having come to look at the

Source: Over 100 People Trapped in Collapsed Building in Havana –
Translating Cuba -

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