Almost ten months since the Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City collapsed leaving 37 people dead, an arrest has finally been made in relation to the tragedy.
A consequence of the Sep. 19 earthquake which killed 326 people, of which 187 were in Mexico City, news of the collapsed private school quickly spread around the world amid reports of students ‘texting’ from inside the rubble. A frantic rescue mission by authorities and volunteers initially recovered the bodies of 21 children in the hours after the collapse.
Since then, the school has remained a symbol of the earthquake and of the over forty collapsed buildings within the Mexican capital. As authorities began to investigate why the building was able to collapse in the first place, initial reports pointed to a violation of construction codes, despite building safety inspectors signing off the construction safety warrant just three months prior to the earthquake, reported The New York Times.
Founded in 1938, the private Enrique Rebsamen school was home to over 400 students. The building had also been accused of building without a permit on two occasions in 2010 and 2014. Although globally Mexico City has some of the strictest building requirements which, if not complied with, can lead to large fines, private building inspectors have been criticised of weak law enforcement allowing for several constructions to skirt around the conditions.
It has since been revealed that the school was fined for building without a permit on the two occasions, upon which the administrators applied for the correct documents and resumed building. Because it was only the older section of the school had collapsed during the earthquake, some had speculated that the construction had not been upgraded to comply with new building regulations that had been brought in after the 1985 earthquake. The 8.1 magnitude disaster which struck Mexico City saw more than 5,000 people die and central Mexico City almost flattened. Questions were quickly raised after it was revealed the school was reviewed by an inspector following an earlier 8.1 earthquake on Sep.7 but a report was not submitted.
Following the Sep.17 earthquake it had been pointed out that the brittle concrete building is a very vulnerable construction when faced with tremors and pictures revealing completely destroyed reinforcements suggested that structurally, the columns that held up the building were not enforced with enough steel.
Police officials announced yesterday that the construction supervisor responsible for overseeing work on the school has been arrested relating to the tragedy. Though his identity has not been released, according to Associated Press reports he will be facing homicide charges over the poor construction.
The Attorney General’s office has also asked Interpol, the largest international police organisation in the world, to help them find the building’s owner, Monica Garcia Villegas, amidst reports that the owner had built an apartment for herself on top of the school which some believe contributed to the collapse.