The house collapse that happened last Wednesday at 8am in Playa Flamenca has been the talk of the local community all week, and of course the main debate and point of speculation has been what caused the buildings to give way.
Fire-fighters rescued two British men, both believed to be in their 60s, from the partially collapsed houses but there could have been more trapped if it hadn’t of been for the quick thinking actions of a local ambulance man. According to eye witnesses, the medic was collecting a housebound patient when he heard the rumble, saw the cracks starting to appear and so ran into the street and in English shouted for everyone to ´get out´.
The incident happened in Calle Limon, urbanisation Laguna III, directly opposite the Citrus Centre. And although there were four houses directly affected, a row of 15 properties were evacuated by the emergency services before they cordoned off the area.
The incident was attended by Local Police and Guardia Civil who made one initial rescues prior to the arrival of fire-fighters from Torrevieja, Orihuela and Almoradí who were able to use a ladder to rescue a second man who was trapped upstairs. There was also a dog from the Elche canine unit which was briefly used to search for bodies. It is believed that at least eight of the houses are occupied.
Luckily the two people rescued from the rubble only had minor injuries and were transferred to the Torrevieja Hospital. One was in a state of shock and the other had bruising.
Also quickly on the scene was the Mayor of Orihuela accompanied by the Councillors for Citizen Security, Emergencies, Social Welfare, Infrastructure and Foreign Residents , as well as a team of municipal technicians who began investigating exactly what caused the collapse.
Some residents have said that they heard cracking noises in the houses on Tuesday and during the early hours of Wednesday morning, before the tragedy struck. According to witnesses, the ground opened up creating a sinkhole which swallowed up part of the property’s facade.
The first floor of one of the properties collapsed onto a wall and patio area bringing down with it a conservatory and other adjoining walls. Two adjoining houses were split in two, with one practically demolished, with serious material damage to two others. The others have large cracks in the structures so it is difficult to know when and if the owners will be able to return to their homes or if they will be demolished.
With no official report by the Municipal technicians, speculation on the cause of the collapse is rife. According to residents the urbanisation has problems with water filtration, with one explaining that the road is often wet and wondering if the communal pool had leaked into the foundations of the houses involved.
Another theory is that the collapse is the result of an illegal under-build in a neighbouring house. According to an article in Spanish regional daily newspaper Información it is believed that the collapse is due to the removal of a load bearing wall or excavating soil from the cellar, which compromised the foundations.