MEXICO CITY – Many buildings in the Mexican capital that were severely damaged by the Sept. 19 earthquake can avoid being demolished if they are well inspected and restructured, engineer Arturo Bautista told EFE on Saturday.
“We’re sure we can restructure the great majority of buildings. We can make them comply with current regulations and the complementary technical norms. And get the buildings functioning again,” the president of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC) said in the capital.
Bautista, the representative of this chamber that has some 10,000 members around the country, said that many buildings hit by the quake can be repaired, though not the ones “whose foundations have been destroyed.”
Demolitions will begin next week of 13 buildings that the Works and Services Secretariat (SOBSE) judges to be on the point of collapsing.
Between 150 and 200 buildings are considered by the capital’s Construction Security Institute to require demolition after the magnitude-7.1 earthquake that left 369 dead, 228 of them in Mexico City.
With the aid of specialists, “every building will have to be analyzed individually to define, calculate and evaluate whether it is more economical to strengthen its structure or demolish it,” Bautista said.
If a building has its foundation intact, the structure can be saved by reinforcing its framework and load-bearing walls.
He said that even structural elements like columns that are “ruptured” can be made rigid again – with steel net, for example.
Bautista noted that while demolition is not expensive, it is always more economical to repair a building than knock it down and then have to rebuild it.
Before demolition, legal issues must be resolved with the proprietor or proprietors of the premises, he recalled.
Once resolved this very important point, security measures will be taken and the demolition will begin.
Mexico City Works and Services Secretary Edgar Tungui gave assurances that no explosives will be used, a rumor that has frightened the local population.
Bautista agreed that the use of explosives is not to be recommended.
The CMIC is collaborating these days with the Construction Security Institute, SOBSE, and the Urban and Housing Development Secretariat (Seduvi) on “reinforcements, major reparations” and future demolitions, the engineer said.
The CMIC is also attending to housing and is helping displaced owners and renters “remove cracks and breakages from their small homes that have no structural damage,” Bautista said.