Friday 22 November 2013

Latvian supermarket collapse

At least 32 people have been killed after the roof of a supermarket collapsed in the Latvian capital, Riga. Three of the dead were emergency workers, and there are fears that more people could be trapped inside. It is the country’s worst disaster since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The supermarket won an architectural prize when it opened just a couple of years ago, and the cause of the collapse is unclear, though there are reports that a garden was being built on the roof. Police are investigating to see whether there have been any breaches of building regulations.

Relatives have been asked to call the mobile phone numbers of those still missing to help rescue services locate them in the rubble. Witnesses said customers tried to run out when the roof started to collapse, but that the supermarket's electronic doors closed, trapping them inside.

Probably the deadliest store collapse of all time happened in the South Korean capital, Seoul, in 1995, when the five-storey Sampoong department store collapsed, killing 501 people. A police investigation revealed that it had been built with sub-standard cement and had been inadequately reinforced. For the full story, see A Disastrous History of the World

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