At least 20 people were killed by a building collapse in Cartagena late last week, according to public officials, with more than 20 others also suffering injuries. The six-story building, located in the Blas de Lezo neighborhood of the Caribbean city, was under construction at the time it fell.
Around 480 rescue personnel, firefighters, and other first responders were on the scene in the immediate aftermath on Thursday, April 27, according to Carlos Iván Márquez, director of Colombia’s National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD).
The agency reported that they were able to rescue 23 people alive in the rubble during the operation, after which survivors were transported to four local hospitals for care. Several canine units also assisted in the rescue.
Three local families, including more than 14 people in total, were also evacuated from the area due to ongoing safety concerns, according to the UNGRD.
While established agencies, such as the Puesto de Mando Unificado (PMU), were among the key operatives of the response, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was made aware of the situation soon after the building fell. He offered the assistance of any national resources that were required, according to the UNGRD.
Colombia’s attorney general has launched an investigation to determine the cause of the collapse. In addition to evidence gathering, the office is engaging in interviews with relevant parties and has sought the assistance of the civil engineering department at the University of Cartagena to better understand how the tragedy could have occurred.
Photo credit: National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD)