Owner of building that collapsed in Wellawatta arrested

Owner of building that collapsed in Wellawatta arrested

May 21, 2017   07:24 am


The owner of the building in Wellawatta, which collapsed killing 2 people and injuring another 21, has been arrested after he surrendered to police.

The Police Spokesman said that the businessman had surrendered to Wellawatta Police and that he will be produced at the Mount Lavinia Magistrates Court today (21).

Following the tragic incident, Police had been looking for the owner of the building in question, a popular banquet hall by the name The Excellency located near Savoy Cinema on Charlemont Road, for questioning. 

Hundreds of army troops, police personnel and firefighters had joined the rescue operation in Wellawatta, where a five-story building still under construction collapsed on Thursday (May 18).

More than 20 people were injured in the incident while troops engaged in rescue operation braving the prevailing inclement weather conditions.

One man was pulled alive from the debris after being trapped for five hours but died soon after he was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital on Thursday night. 

A spokesman said the man’s respiratory system and heartbeat were not functioning when he was admitted to the hospital and efforts to resuscitate him failed.

Meanwhile the body of a youth was discovered under the debris of the building on Saturday, bringing the confirmed death toll to two.

Police said construction work was under way to expand the five-storey building when it collapsed on Thursday.

The reason for the building collapse was not immediately clear but it is suspected that the weight of the new extension could have been the cause. 

In the wake of the tragic incident, the government said it will demolish an estimated 10,000 illegally built homes and offices in Colombo.

Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Champika Ranawaka said the casualties could have been much higher if the hall had been hosting a wedding at the time of its collapse, and that the owners would face criminal charges.

“This wedding hall is a clear example of the dangers posed by unauthorised construction in Colombo,” the minister told reporters on Friday. 

“A structural failure led to the collapse.” The capital has a population of over 7,50,000 people, while another half a million travel to it daily for work.

“Our estimate is that there are at least 10,000 illegally built homes, apartments and offices in the city of Colombo,” the minister said. “We will take immediate steps to remove them.” 

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