NBRO report on collapsed Kandy house due tomorrow | Sunday Observer

NBRO report on collapsed Kandy house due tomorrow

The house after collapse  Pic credit Asela Kuruluwansa
The house after collapse Pic credit Asela Kuruluwansa

The National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) officials will hand over their report tomorrow (28) on the quality of the raw material used to construct the five story building which collapsed and killed a young family in Sangamitta Mawatha in Buwelikada, Kandy early this week.

A team from the NBRO collected samples of the raw materials used including metal coils to ascertain if the raw materials which were used were safe. The house collapsed during the wee hours on Sunday (20) morning.

Approval



The Ekanayake family

Central Province Governor Lalith U. Gamage said that approval was given only to construct four stories but a fifth floor had been added illegally. The Kandy police has launched an investigation into the incident.

Gamage has also appointed a 21-member committee to identify other buildings that are at risk of collapse in the Kandy district. The committee includes officers of the Department of Civil Engineering, Kandy Municipal Council, Urban Development Authority and geologists. After their observations, people living in high-risk areas will be given free consultation. The report is due in a week.

Residents in Sangamitta Mawatha said that the house was built obstructing a waste water passage. An official of the NBRO told the media that there were several water passages in the area where the house was built, and that this could have weakened the foundation of the house.

The Kandy District geologist for the National Building Research Organisation, Samantha Egodapitiya told the media that the house was not built on stable land, and that the constructors have not used the concrete and steel bars properly. He also said that the construction of the house was not suited for the land it was built on.

“They should have researched these factors before the construction,” he said.

The owner of the house and former Basnayake Nilame of the Dodanwala Devalaya, Anura Lewke, said that the construction of his house was legal, but couldn’t produce the documents as they were covered with debris. Recalling the event, soon after the collapse, Lewke refuted the allegations levelled against him.

“My daughter is sitting for the A/L examination this year. She was studying till 1.30 a.m. We went to sleep after that. It was around 4.00-4.15 a.m. when we heard strange sounds. I went out to see what it was, and our neighbour Samarasinghe said, “Lewke, your house is cracking”. He also said that they managed to get out of the house to get into their vehicle and escape.

His son recalled the incident differently. He said he woke up due to strange noises and dogs barking.

“When I called out for my mother she said she heard the noises too. She went to the balcony to check. That was when Samarasinghe told her that the house was cracking. She then woke my sister and father,” he said.

Collapse

He also said that he called the Kandy police to warn them about the incident but within minutes their house had collapsed.

“We built this house in 2006. We got approval for the construction. They are stored in a safe. Now, we cannot access any of them because of the debris,” he added.

Lewke’s wife expressed her sympathy about their neighbours who died as a result of the incident.

Kandy SSP ,Sudath Masinghe said the house was constructed on a steep slope and when it collapsed, its debris fell on two buildings that were below it, killing the family of three who were sleeping in one of the rooms.

The deceased were identified as businessman Chamila Prasad (35), his wife Achala Ekanayake (32), a lawyer and lecturer at the Open University, and their 49-day old infant. The other two members of the family managed to escape. Achala’s mother who was sleeping in another room when the house collapsed said, “I was sleeping in the room adjacent to the one where my daughter, her husband and the child were sleeping.



The house before collapse?

The girl who was working at the hotel was sleeping in my room. Around five in the morning, there was an earth tremor and a deafening sound.

“One of the walls in our room had collapsed near my bed. I could not see anything. Somehow, I stumbled upon the mobile phone. I dialed 119 and informed them that the house had collapsed. Then the police rescued us. The room where my daughter, her husband and the child were in was completely destroyed.”

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) in a letter addressed to the Acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickramaratne called on him to take action if any criminal offence is discovered.

“The woman who had succumbed to her death is Mrs. Achala Ekanayake AAL, a member of our Association. Irrespective of the fact that she is a member of the BASL there are several issues that would arise at this point. You would recall that a few years ago a building collapsed in a similar fashion in Wellawatte near the Savoy Theatre.

“Unfortunately and strangely there appears to be a trend that no further action is taken by the State bodies after the initial investigations are done.

The matter appears to be forgotten until another incident takes place,” the letter signed by the President of BASL Kalinga Indatissa stated. The letter added that in the past, when incidents of this nature take place there have been instances where it is alleged that the investigations are not properly or adequately conducted.

“The BASL will definitely be involved in any pending proceedings,” it said adding that the police have a duty to conduct a ‘proper and adequate investigation’ into the incident.

Police Media Spokesman, SSP Jaliya Senaratne said legal action will be taken against those involved in the construction of the house if the investigations prove that it was not built adhering to legal standards. He also said that the house owners had the moral duty to warn others who were at risk from the collapsing house.

Echoing these sentiments Central Province Govenor, Gamage said that the law should be enforced against those who are found guilty of building a substandard building.

Additional reporting by Asela Kuruluwansa.

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