SYDNEY (AP) — A six-story office building that collapsed and killed 115 people in New Zealand’s devastating earthquake last year was poorly designed, inadequately constructed and should never have been issued a building permit, a government report said Monday.
The Canterbury Television (CTV) building crumbled to the ground during the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked Christchurch on Feb. 22, 2011. The building’s collapse was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the 185 deaths from the quake.
Monday’s report was the final release from the government-ordered commission that spent months investigating the buildings damaged in the quake. Findings the commission released in February concluded that the CTV building was made of weak columns and concrete and did not meet standards when it was built in 1986. The building’s designer contested those findings.
Prime Minister John Key said building failures were responsible for 175 of the 185 deaths from the quake.
“We owed it to them, their loved ones left behind, and those people badly injured in the earthquake, to find answers as to why some buildings failed so severely,” Key said in a statement.
The report found several deficiencies in the CTV building’s engineering design and said the city council should never have issued the building a permit because the design did not comply with the standards at the time. The commission also concluded that there were inadequacies in the building’s construction.
The report noted that the building had been issued a “green sticker” following a magnitude-7.0 earthquake in September 2010, signaling authorities had given it the thumbs-up for people to continue using it.
An investigation by The Associated Press last year found that inspection checks routinely used across the world to verify the safety of buildings following earthquakes fail to account for how well those buildings will withstand future quakes. The AP found that building occupants and public officials in Christchurch did not understand that a “green sticker” doesn’t mean the building has undergone a thorough analysis of its structural health, nor that it will stay intact during future quakes.
The commission’s report found that the CTV building was given a green sticker after being inspected by just three building officials, none of whom was an engineer. The commission recommended that in the future, only trained building safety evaluators be authorized to inspect buildings after earthquakes, and that government agencies should research how to account for aftershocks.
Associated Press writer Nick Perry in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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