The injured and witnesses speak about the collapse of Wellawatta 'Excellency' building

 The injured and witnesses speak about the collapse of Wellawatta 'Excellency' building

The injured and witnesses speak about the collapse of Wellawatta 'Excellency' building

As a result of the 7 storied 'Excellency' festival hall behind Savoy Cinema Hall collapsing at about 11 last morning, 22 persons have been hospitalised. Search operations are underway based on the clue that 3 persons are trapped there and the victim found last evening having suffered serious injuries towards the bottom part of the body succumbed to his injuries on being admitted to hospital. Most of those who sustained injury were employees of the festival hall and labourers who were engaged in construction activities. Among the wounded is a school-van driver who used to park
his vehicle as a matter of custom there.

A person engaged in construction activities there had this to say: "Our residence is Tanamalwila. We came to work here from 29th of last month. We were engaged in fixing some boards on the fifth floor of the building. There were 5 with us. At about 10.45 in the morning the rear part of the slab where we were suddenly tilted towards the ground. As soon as the rear side began tilting towards our side, we immediately made a dart and got down with the aid of a rope and thus managed to save our lives. The sir who was in charge of our work was in a room in the part which collapsed. He had been rescued and admitted to hospital. People were working in the section which came down. Can't say what happened to them".

The supervisor of the kitchen of the festival hall building has said: "I supervise activities of the kitchen of the festival hall. When we were engaged in work, about 10.45 in the morning all of a sudden there was a noise 'doong ... doong!' The hall got covered with smoke just then. The 'baas' people working near the building close to the hall cautioned us not to stay there and to go away swiftly. Only 3 people were in the kitchen section. There were 7 floors in the building. Right at the bottom there is a car-park. The festival hall is above it.The 2 floors at the top were under construction. About 12 people were inside. There were no festivals today. The undermost hall of the building was rented out for vehicles to park. It was cleaning activities that were being done today. We got news that 2 people are trapped inside. There was no explosion in the building".

An elder brother of an employee engaged in work in the festival hall had this to say: "Our houses are in Hatton. My younger brother Niroshan is working in this hotel from about a month back. He had been involved in cleaning activities. There had been a woman who had been working with him. There's no news about both of them. My brother's phone was always in his trouser pocket. Though I called him continuously today, it did not function.

The manager of Savoy Cinema adjoining which the collapsed building is had said: "2 vehicles of our Savoy and one cooling tower have suffered damages. The owner of this festival hall has not constructed it according to standards. There were several cracks on it. There wasn't a contractor. I saw various people coming and attending to constructing activities of the building. Attend to one part ... then stop again ... then make one section. Even cement used to fall on parked vehicles when constructions were taking place. When that happens those vehicles are directed to the service centre on the other side and are washed and given. It's under this building that vehicles coming to St. Peter's College are parked. We told those of this building not to erect buildings like this. During the course of construction of this building, the Savoy building too faced constant damage. But it was not built according to standards".

Security forces including the army engaged in a telephone dialogue with a trapped person from 11.oo till 7.oo in the night yesterday. The victim had said that the part below his waist has been covered by the debris and had pleaded therefore to rescue him as soon as possible, communicating with the security forces from his mobile phone. The army had ultimately managed to get this person out called Sampath last night around 7.35 and admit him to hospital; but because of the extensive injuries he had sustained, he had passed away.

As a result of this incident, the army state that according to information given by people engaged in work there, a woman including 2 others are still trapped inside the building. The building which has come down with some of its parts have inclined towards buildings on either side and those parts were found fallen into the waste-matter canal which flows close to the building concerned. The army added that they were engaged in search operations to find as to whether the people in the building have fallen into that canal.

After the building collapsed, officers of Building Research Institute and Geological and Mining Institute had come to this location and conducted investigations. What those engineers said was that constructions of this building had not been carried out with proper standards and plan and that the part which collapsed has been constructed for further stories without any proper plan or permission.
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