One of the worst things I've seen in a while...
May 25, 2001 12:55 PM   Subscribe

One of the worst things I've seen in a while... this reminds me of that 8-story supermarket in Seoul, Korea last year that crumbled from the weight of overcrowding in it's poorly built frame. What does it take for people to know better than to let things like this happen?
posted by prototype_octavius (20 comments total)
It's truly sad to see something like this happen, but the fact of the matter is that many countries just don't have building codes and/or they're not followed and/or inspected upon anyway. Also, the facts on what exactly happened are a bit iffy right now as well. Were there too many people in the space? Was the building not up to code? Whatever the reason, it's horrible that it had to happen, but sometimes it's just these sorts of things that make cities re-evaluate their codes and buildings and hopefully prevent something like it from happening again.
posted by almostcool at 2:28 PM on May 25, 2001

I just watched this video about 30 minutes ago. I still feel sick to my stomach.
posted by jragon at 3:55 PM on May 25, 2001

It's really quite disturbing. They just vanish into a cloud of smoke before your eyes. I was treated to this multiple times on CNN while trying to catch the weblogs story (which of course I didn't).

Before we get our First World airs on, keep in mind the Kansas City Hyatt Regency collapse in 1981. Building codes WERE quite strict, and all the plans were approved by the city engineer, the architect was quite explicit about how the walkways were to be suspended, on steel rods. But the contractor botched his design during construction and nobody caught it, so the bottom walkway was essentially hanging from the one above, instead of from the load-bearing structure in the ceiling.

Also, it may come as something of a surprise, but if you read about the bridge and tunnel business, you'll find that almost every major bridge or tunnel is in some way an engineering experiment. Many individual bridges, especially in the high-tech cable-stayed variety, have patented construction techniques. Failure may be closer than we think.

In any event, the arrests are certainly premature. There's no way to know yet whether the materials or engineering were inadequate, or whether it was a design flaw, or a failure of the civil engineering inspection process.
posted by dhartung at 4:21 PM on May 25, 2001

Discovery Channel had a great series of programs on the constructions of bridges, tunnels, and skyscrapers. Some of that stuff is pretty scary engineering-wise, and impressive all at the same time.

But what do I know, I work in a building that looks like it's going to fall over at any moment. On the thirteenth floor, even.
posted by kindall at 7:46 PM on May 25, 2001

Kindall. You work in a building which looks like one of the Borg cubes on Star Trek.

Israel, one would think, has pretty "Western" building codes. It was more likely from corruption than a design flaw. Nauseating.

As for the arrests, it's a lot easier to arrest someone in Europe or elsewhere than the United States.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:09 PM on May 25, 2001

....'things fall apart'...gez.we cant help but look but must we see? what would compel one to watch this over again(I refuse to see it) kaddish.
posted by clavdivs at 8:29 PM on May 25, 2001

that is just way disturbing... how normal everything looked before the disaster... and all the screaming... that about ruined my night... is the a body count out yet?
posted by lotsofno at 9:25 PM on May 25, 2001

Having to sit there and watch the remaining people founder around in utter shock and panic was the most disturbing part of that. At the same time, however, it made me question what the most effective next-steps in an emergency like that would be. You're standing in a room with a few hundred close loved ones, and suddenly half of them fall through the floor - what do you do? Do you call the cops and then go try to help people? Do you get out of the building in fear of other structural compromises? I imagine left-coasters may have more insight on structural emergencies than those of us who don't experience the threat of earthquakes very often.
posted by Hankins at 9:34 PM on May 25, 2001

Sometimes the codes are there but they're just not enforced, as was the case in the KC Hyatt catastrophe.

In 1995 the New Yorker ran a story on the structurally unsound Citicorp Tower here in NYC. (Here's a bit about that particular problem.)

One of the things I remember most from the article is this: Oftentimes the architects, engineers and contractors working on high-profile projects are making millions of bucks from their projects and have lofty reputations. Meanwhile, most of the city or state employees that inspect and sign off on structural plans and construction projects are relatively low-paid civil workers who don't carry much weight.

When these city inspectors don't understand something about a building's design or construction scheme, they'll often take the word of the more prestigious folks rather than insist that the building plans change.

These inspectors also don't want the bureaucratic responsibility of holding up city construction, as this would get them in deep dirt with local pols and powers-that-be who want to appear to be business-friendly (because of the union-based nature of construction, any delay or modification can run up costs considerably).

All of which is pretty darn depressing. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those poor people in Jerusalem.
posted by bilco at 11:44 PM on May 25, 2001

I am disturbed mostly from the placement of the Jefferson Pilot ads. Why the camera person kept taping the panic that ensued afterwards is beyond me...he must not have thought that someone would buy a tape depicting the very moment a loved one had died....who would want to see such things? I would have dropped that camcorder and helped out any way I could. The actions and advertising surrounding it is what brings more uncertainty than anything for me, andmy heart goes out to these people as well. Yet in some way, I feel I should apologize to them for participating in the viewing this video.
posted by samsara at 7:05 AM on May 26, 2001

This building, UCSD's main library, was built without considering the weight of the books. It proceeded to slowly sink into the ground over many years. Engineers' way to fix the problem? Dig and build an additional 3 stories of library space underneath the existing library.

PS, standing on that middle floor, and seeing nothing below you, is quite eerie.

Additional Photos
posted by afx114 at 9:53 AM on May 26, 2001

I am with you samsara & Hankins. The image of all those people plummeting down was bad enough. Soon after though, I started wondering about the camera work in general and the individual shooting it. I mean, first the shot of the people is followed down as the floor collapses. I would have expected that the image would have disappeared to the bottom of the frame first. Then, the wandering eye as people milled around with what appeared to be no effort to assist. I don't think this is some conspiricy thing, but, taken as a whole, it was odd to say the least.

I feel so bad for those (and others who have gone through that type of terror) when I see images like that.

On a side note:
(FOXNEWS) "The Palestinian Authority sent its condolences to the Israeli government
and offered to help with the rescue work. The gesture came at a time of bitter
conflict between the two sides, after eight months of fighting that has killed hundreds,
mostly on the Palestinian side."

posted by perogi at 10:08 AM on May 26, 2001

Re the camera: wasn't it on a tripod? I mean, some of the footage might have been from other cameras , but not main portion?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:26 AM on May 26, 2001

No, it was a handheld and appeared to be the same person (at least in the version of the video that I saw.). All tolled, I would say that only a few minutes transpired in what was shown.
posted by perogi at 11:35 AM on May 26, 2001

what really scares me is the fact that they guy kept taping instead of trying to rescue or react whatsoever to the event. are we this desensitized to violence and destruction?
posted by wantwit at 12:35 PM on May 26, 2001

wantwit, if you've ever been in a situation like that... you'd know that your brain absolutely freezes. You can't process anything to do anything except what you started and were doing before the accident occured.

I photographed for a community college newspaper for a couple of years. One of my assignments was to photograph the pole-vaulting star... so I set myself up next to the stand that they were to vault over, and as they jumped, my finger went down on my motordrive and stayed there.
Unfortunately, the pole that's supposed to break away when the person hits it DIDN'T this time, and the vaulter got injured, badly. It was such a shock that I couldn't do anything except sit there with my finger on that shutter for another few seconds, until someone started screaming and I popped out of it.
With the shock being that much greater, I think he just kept filming because he was in shock, so his brain continued doing what it had been doing before.
posted by SpecialK at 3:07 PM on May 26, 2001

SK, Yah, I was thinking that too. However, when that pole vaulter had that accident, did you continue to film what you anticipated to happen - raise the camera with the impending jump, or follow the vaulter to the ground? I guess the thing that got me was the fact that the person taping actually followed the collapse down - and then - continued to tape.

I am with you on the shock thing though. It happens in all sorts of situations. What is odd here though is the amount of time that transpires after the collapse. I have to wonder if the person is one of those wedding videographers who has spent so much time with one eye in a viewfinder and the other closed shut, that he/she simply simply wandered around without realizing that they were still filming.

Regardelss, it is still some of the most disturbing pieces of video that I have seen in its sheer terror factor.
posted by perogi at 4:22 PM on May 26, 2001

Actually, it's the most nightmare-inducing piece of film/video I've ever seen. How is that couple ever going to get over this?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:35 PM on May 26, 2001

I could see someone thinking "Wow, this is important! I better continue taping!" Misguided or not, the fact that you're there with a camera can confer a sense of responsibility to document whatever's happening. Later you think "maybe I should have helped" but at the time the news urge is in control.
posted by rodii at 7:31 PM on May 26, 2001

I was at a party newyears eve and we also brought the house down.. the basement was only about 10 feet down so no-one got hurt.. too badly.
posted by stbalbach at 5:20 AM on May 27, 2001

« Older What the hell is Martin Garbus up to?   |   ICON FEVER! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments