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Sure to fall

Maria Bradshaw

Sure to fall

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THE?COLLAPSE?of the Shalom Apartments complex at Arch Cot Terrace, Brittons Hill, St Michael, was inevitable, geologist Andre Brathwaite told the Coroner’s Court yesterday.
Brathwaite stated that the apartment, which crumbled in 2007 killing a family of five, would have collapsed whether or not construction was taking place in the environs.
In his riveting testimony, the geologist told the court:?“From the size and extent of the cave, in my opinion, it would have collapsed, whether today or 15 years from now.”
He explained that the load bearing of the building, which sat on top of a cave, would have assisted in the collapse.
The Natural Resources Department director in Government’s Energy Division said he only knew of and investigated the cave at Brittons Hill after the collapse, but pointed out that caves were “everywhere in Barbados”. He said from his evaluation the collapse was inevitable due to the fracture zones, the size of the cave, the traffic flow in the area and the distance from the surface to the top of the cave, which he stated, was very shallow.
During questions from all the attorneys present at the inquest, as well as from Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris, Brathwaite also pointed out that the construction work taking place behind the apartment complex would have contributed to the collapse.
He explained that the rock type in the area was soft coral, known as finger type, which was susceptible to fractures and fracture zones.
However, he stated that he would not expect an engineer or a building contractor to be concerned about caves in the area from the rock type.