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Spanish store collapse probe focus on under designed floor

AN INQUIRY into a floor that collapsed underneath hundreds of bargainhunters at a Spanish furniture store will examine whether it had been properly strengthened after it was first found to be under strength seven years ago.

Some 185 shoppers were injured last month when they fell 4.5m into the basement of the Muebles Peralta store between Dos Hermanas and Seville after a 90m 2hole opened up in the ground floor. The collapse followed a sudden surge of shoppers responding to low sale prices.

But it has emerged that the owner of the store, built in 1975, was warned the floor was under strength in 1993. Muebles Peralta employed engineer Manuel Garcia Pizarro formerly of store designer Otcile. Pizarro found remedial work was required throughout the structure.

In 1993 the store won ú350,000 in damages from contractor Construcciones Vicente Laguna after a court case over structural problems relating to construction. But it is unclear if the money has been invested in comprehensive strengthening or whether only the visible faults in the structure were made good.

A spokesman for the store said: 'All that needed to be done was done.'

Floor construction was insitu concrete-topped hollow core concrete blocks spanning between small section concrete purlins at 600mm centres.

These in turn span 6m between the main steel I-beams, which sit on exposed fabricated steel columns.

A spokesman for local architectural technicians institute Colegio de Aparajedores Antonio Gonzales Garcia said buildings of that age were generally good. He said the construction problems were almost certainly a one-off.

But added: 'If the same engineer and contractor were responsible for more buildings, these would have to be checked.'

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