Fatal quake building poorly built - report

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iol pic wld christchurch earthquake CTV REUTERS File photo - A rescue worker searchs for signs of life in the rubble of CTV building in Christchurch February 24, 2011.

Wellington -

A six-storey building that collapsed, killing 115 people, when an earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2011 should never have been built, according to an official inquiry report released on Monday.

The design and construction of the Canterbury Television (CTV) Building were deficient and it should never have been given a permit by the Christchurch City Council, the royal commission's report said.

Prime Minister John Key described the report as “grim and sobering reading” and said, “Its design did not comply with the standards of the time, and there were inadequacies in the construction of the building.”

The CTV Building accounted for well over half the 185 people who died in the magnitude-6.3 quake on February 22 last year. The 115 victims included 70 students from more than 20 countries at an English language school on the third floor.

Only seven people who were in the 1986 concrete building at the time survived.

The report said the building should not have been approved for continued occupation after a magnitude-7.1 quake caused widespread damage in the South Island's largest city on September 4, 2010.

Key noted that the building had been inspected by only three building officials, none of whom was an engineer. It was inspected again after a magnitude-4.9 aftershock on December 26, 2010, and declared safe a second time, having suffered only superficial damage.

During the inquiry, it was discovered the man who supervised the building's construction had faked his engineering degree after stealing the identity of a retired engineer based in Britain who was a friend.

Key said the report found that 175 of the total 185 deaths in the city were caused by failures of buildings or parts of buildings and the inquiry had been launched to find answers as to why they failed so severely.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission's full report contains more than 1 100 pages in seven volumes and makes 189 recommendations, which Key said the government would consider.

The report followed an eight-week hearing that heard testimony from more than 80 witnesses, including survivors, witnesses, building designers, architects, engineers, builders and inspectors. - Sapa-dpa


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