Residents of ‘Essel Heights’-Derebail Evacuated as Retaining Wall Collapses-Few Cars Buried

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Residents of ‘Essel Heights’ -Derebail in City Evacuated as Protective/Retaining Wall Collapses- Few Cars have been Buried under Debris. Who should be blamed for this incident- Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) Officials for giving LICENCE without doing proper inspection or the BUILDER for constructing an unsafe retaining wall, showing carelessness and negligence towards the safety of the residents?

Mangaluru: A neighbour residing right across from Essel Heights Apartments in Derebail/Kuntikan, Mangaluru speaking to Team Mangalorean said that he knew when the construction of the apartment was going pon, that one day the wall behind the building would come down since it looked dangerous- and today we saw the result. On Friday, 11 September 2020, the protective/retaining wall of the residential complex “ESSEL HEIGHTS” in Derebail/Kuntikain the city collapsed right behind the building and buried a few cars parked under the falling debris. Luckily no injuries or death were reported due to this incident. And as a safety measure, all the residents of the apartment were evacuated and requested not to return back for the next two days, until everything was okay.

It is learnt that another portion of the wall could also collapse, including a nearby road, due to the heavy rains, which made workers not to take any chance in doing rescue work. Due to the continuous rains, it was hard to carry on the rescue work, and in the meantime, as preventive measures all the residents in the apartment were evacuated, and told not to return for at least two days, or until it was safe to move back into their flats.

The firemen and local policemen had quickly reached the premises and did all the arrangements for the safe evacuation of the residents. New MCC Commissioner Akshay Sridhar, Tahsildar Guruprasad, Corporator and former MCC Mayor Shashidhar Hegde, and few other district administration authorities had visited the spot and inspected the premises. While workers are clearing the debris, concerned authorities are continuing investigation on the incident. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, a renowned Civil Engineer said, “The most common signs of failure of a retaining wall are a tilting out of plumb or cracking (horizontal, vertical and/or stair-step). The reasons for these types of failures are lack of proper reinforcement, improper drainage behind the wall (lack of weep holes or clogged holes), foundation footing problems, settlement or expansion of the soil, overloading of the wall, construction errors, and/or other design errors”.

He further said, “Most of the retaining walls that failed consisted of unreinforced concrete block masonry walls. These are the type of walls where most likely no licensed engineer was involved in its design. The end result of an improperly designed and/or constructed wall is gradual, forward-tilting, followed by eventual collapse. The latter normally occurs during heavy rainfall. Drainage conditions also play a large role in success or failure of a retaining wall. If water is allowed to collect behind the wall, the horizontal forces increase substantially. Poor drainage conditions are usually the reason most wall failures occur during rainfall. “Failure” of a retaining wall does not necessarily mean total collapse, but rather signs of impending instability and the likelihood of a collapse. Design errors as the cause of failures are relatively rare when prepared by an experienced designer. Thorough investigations and detailed measurements/research will help distinguish between pre-existing conditions and sudden and accidental losses”.

Whether all these requirements and systematic procedures were followed in this Retain Wall Collapse at ‘Essel Heights’, will be known only after thorough investigation – until then the residents have to keep their fingers crossed before they decide to move in.

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