Watch: ‘It felt like an earthquake’

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A man who owns a garage close to where the site collapsed due to excavation works on an adjacent site said that on Monday he heard a loud noise describing it as “bu bu bu bu bum”. The man added that it felt as though an earthquake had happened. Looking out from where he was he saw a big dust cloud.

Asked if he knew the victim, the man said that he knew both the victim and widower, the latter would pass daily outside of his garage. He explained that he ran down to see what was happening and all that he could see was a dust cloud.

On Monday, Miriam Pace, 54, of Ħamrun was killed on Monday after her family home collapsed due to adjacent excavation works. The victim was found dead after an intense joint search and rescue operation which took more than eight hours and was composed of the Civil Protection Department, the Police and a medical team. Sniffer dogs were used to help locate the victim who was buried under the rubble.

Four individuals – two people who were working on the site, the architect and the site technical officer – have been arrested in connection to the case.

“I was sure she was inside the house,” he said having passed from the road a few minutes earlier.

A couple who was nearby said that the incident happened after they had left their car for repairs. “As soon as we left, the building collapsed,” the couple told Newsbook.com.mt.

Another woman who on Tuesday morning turned up on site to see what had happened, said that she lived some streets further away from where the building collapsed. She told this newsroom that people who knew Miriam Pace described her as a lovely person.

The woman explained that at the time of the incident she was taking a shower when the electricity suddenly went off. At first she thought it was related to the usual power cuts because of the damage done to the interconnector. Upon exiting her house to see what had happened, her neighbor told her that a house had collapsed. She then headed to the site to see for herself what had happened. The woman told Newsbook.com.mt that she would fear for her life if they had to start works next to her house.

A woman living on the same road as the victim said that she was having her siesta when she heard the sound, immediately thinking that it was an earthquake. She emerged out of her balcony to find a lot of police officers on site. The first thing after the loud sound, was the sound of sirens.

“At first I didn’t realize, even though I can see the place from my balcony. I had to ask a passer by. She told me that the building had collapsed,” the woman told this newsroom.

The woman said that she knew Miriam Pace since they both have daughters of the same age. “They served as altar girls together,” the woman said.

Another man who lives a bit further away from where the building collapsed said that he knew the person who owned the garage beneath the house and who has a car showroom.

Two other men who happened to be in the vicinity on Tuesday morning, told Newsbook.com.mt that they were not from the area and happened to have stopped for a coffee. However, they lived close to where other sites had collapsed a year before. Both men expressed their fear of having construction works going on in an adjacent site. One of them said that while others have escaped unharmed in this case it was a tragedy. He referred to the unbridled construction and said if they were to develop next to his house he would not be comfortable with it especially when such incidents have become frequent.

A list of building collapse

Last June, residents living in a block of apartments on Mimosa Street, Ħamrun had to be evacuated after a wall adjacent to a building site collapsed. In April, no one was injured when a three-storey block collapsed adjacent to a construction site in Guardamangia.

In June, an elderly woman was pulled out of the four-storey building and rushed to hospital after a building collapsed in Mellieħa.

In October, there were two construction-related incidents within an hour. Part of the ceiling of a popular snack bar in Msida caved in. Earlier that day, part of the wall of a backyard collapsed in St. Paul’s Bay.

A string of incidents last year had led to disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat declaring that all excavation and suspension permits are suspended until new regulations were drawn up.