By Anush Dashtents
A big chunk of a four-story building in central Yerevan crumbled late on Sunday, burying some of the adjacent private houses under its rubble but, miraculously, causing no fatalities. One of its residents was hospitalized with serious injuries.
The building section belonging to a state-run technical college collapsed six months after falling into disuse. The college administration decided not to hold there classes anymore following a warning from the municipal authorities.
The building was seriously damaged by the 1988 earthquake. Experts from the government’s emergencies department said repeated leakages from its plumbing have accelerated the erosion of its foundation.
The authorities, meanwhile, promised on Monday to compensate owners of the houses completely or partly destroyed by the collapse. But it is not clear whether that will be enough to restore them.
The accident highlighted the wider problem of old and decrepit buildings in the Armenian capital that are in danger of collapsing. The authorities put their number at 339. Thirty-four of them are subject to demolition, while the others require substantial funding to be propped up.
The authorities have already begun resettling about 200 families residing in four apartment blocks in the city’s Ajapnyak district. The buildings were built in the 1960s and are due to be torn down soon.