Scores have been killed and hundreds injured following the collapse of an eight-story building on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
The densely populated building in the Savar area of the city contained a clothing factory, a bank and several other shops.
The collapse, which Dhaka police said started at the rear of the building, occurred during the morning rush hour. Latest media reports put the death toll at 70 with 200 injured and an unknown number trapped inside.
Dhaka-based Medway Consultancy Services (MCS) managing director Tim Khan told NCE that he suspected that a column failure had led to the catastrophe.
“The building is a [concrete] reinforced framed structure and it looks like a column may have failed,” he said.
“Normally the columns are stronger than the beams but in this case it looks like the reverse has happened allowing hinges to form in the building’s slender columns.”
Local reports suggest that the owner had been warned that the building was unsafe prior to the collapse.
Such collapses are not uncommon in the Bangladeshi capital. In 2010 a four-storey building caved-in killing 25 people and in 2005 another collapse near the site of this latest disaster killed 64 people.
Khan, who has worked as an engineer in Dhaka for 25 years, said the authorities were trying to improve the situation, but with limited effect.
“We have a national building code which was introduced in 2004 but even now there is no requirement to submit drawings or calculations.”
“The local authorities only want to look at the geometry; the size, height and floor area ratios,’ added Khan.
“You could have had a perfect design but even that may have had little effect because in my experience there is little or no supervision. It is a case of cutting corners and a lack of knowledge combined with a lack of supervision.”