Digging Goes on for Three Still Trapped in Collapsed Garage

Rescue workers carry out a victim of the building collapse in Tel Aviv, Tuesday. (Flash90)
Rescue workers carry out a victim of the building collapse in Tel Aviv, Tuesday. (Flash90)

Police Arrest Suspect in Tel Aviv Disaster

Rescue workers continued to dig for survivors in the collapsed parking garage in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, in which at least four people died and 24 were injured.

Two bodies were extracted from the ruins during the day, but three more people— two residents of Acre and a Palestinian from the Dawabsheh family—were still trapped, according to Ynet on Tuesday night.

Lt. Sami Yehezkel, one of the rescue team leaders at the scene, held out hope that they could yet be pulled out alive: “We are working with all the forces of the Homefront Command to reach those trapped. We are working at a number of locations we identified at the start through intelligence. This leads us to the most relevant places first.”

“We are working with heavy equipment and all the means of the Homefront Command. We have the best methods in the world based on our unfortunately extensive experience in Israel and abroad,” he continued. “Until proven otherwise, we are treating all of those trapped as still alive. We are operating at peak energy and professionalism and are ready to work 24/7 to find those still trapped.”

Meanwhile, police arrested a suspect in the case who might have been guilty of negligence which led to the collapse of the structure on Monday.

While a gag order was issued preventing disclosure of the suspect’s identity, Arutz Sheva quoted sources saying that it was not one of the individuals mentioned in previous reports concerning safety issues at the site.

Ronen Ginsburg, the CEO of Danya Cebus, the subsidiary company carrying out the construction, told Calacalist in a 2013 interview that they hired an architect rather than an engineer to save two to three percent on costs, but without incurring any greater risks.

“For the project to construct this new public parking structure in Ramat Hahayal in Tel Aviv, which we were chosen to build, we decided that an architect will be the general manager,” Ginsburg said. “He understands problems with planning, environment, and others, and is able to solve these problems faster than an engineer—who is basically a construction worker whose only responsibility is to make sure that the building won’t collapse.”

While it is perfectly legal to use an architect as opposed to an engineer, and it is frequently done, the company came in for criticism from engineering experts, one of whom pointed out in The Times of Israel that the way that the skeletons of parking garages are built is critical, and therefore, the decision not to use an engineer to manage construction was especially problematic.

“We request that engineers supervise any and all engineering project[s],” said Chairman of the Engineer’s Association Danny Marian. “These [government] exemptions reduce the ability of companies to deal with projects where there is a high level of danger for the construction workers.”

Africa Israel, the main contractor for the construction, said “the company will do everything in its power to assist the relevant authorities in an investigation. The company expresses its deep sorrow over the tragic deaths, and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.”