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NZ quake collapse designer apologises

August 7, 2012

WELLINGTON: The designer of a building which collapsed in last year’s Christchurch earthquake, killing 115 people, apologised at a New Zealand probe into the disaster today, saying it did not meet his standards.

Alan Reay, whose company designed the Canterbury Television office block in the mid-1980s, described its failure as “a terrible tragedy”.

The six-storey building crumpled then burst into flames when a 6.3-magnitude quake hit New Zealand’s second largest city on February 22 last year, accounting for almost two-thirds of the disaster’s 185 fatalities.

“I’ve spent my life working in engineering and have always tried to maintain the highest standards of the profession,” Reay told a royal commission into the earthquake.

“I apologise to all the families affected, as this building did not meet my standards.”

He did not explicitly admit that the design was at fault, but said that if it was, “ultimately it is the responsibility of my company”.

Of the 115 who died in the structure, 65 were foreign students attending an English language school, most of them from China and Japan.

The building’s disintegration and the subsequent inferno were so destructive that forensic specialists had to use DNA testing to identify the remains of many victims.

The royal commission, which opened its hearings in May last year, is scheduled to present its findings to the government in November.

A separate inquiry into the building’s collapse by government inspectors concluded last February that the building was sub-standard and their report was passed on to police to see if further action was warranted.
-AFP


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