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    Albanian building collapse

    Posted by franksupa on November 11, 2008

    The first victim, a 65-year-old woman was pulled out on Monday morning.

    According to the Ministry of Interior, a woman and her 12-year-old daughter are still believed to be under the debris.

    Emergency crews, firefighters and police launched a rescue mission after an apartment building where 30 families lived collapsed on Sunday.
    So far four people have been taken to the local hospital.

    “There is still hope that someone will be found alive,” said Alfred Olli, Albania’s head of Civil Emergencies Agency.

    According to the Ministry of Interior, construction work on a new building at the base of the hill – where the apartment block is located – may have caused the collapse. The owners of the construction firm have been placed under arrest.

    Speaking at the scene after arriving from Tirana, Prime Minister Sali Berisha asked for a thorough investigation.

    “Those responsible should be brought to justice,” said Berisha, adding that for now the authorities were concentrating on the rescue operation.

    Real estate has been booming in Albania for a decade. Price increases were fuelled by strong domestic demand, availability of mortgage loans, fast-flowing remittances from family members working abroad and a strong migratory trend from rural to urban areas.

    Nowhere domestically has the economic buoyancy yielded greater change than in the property market, with the construction industry accounting for 47 per cent of overall economic activity in 2006.

    However, the fast pace of growth, coupled with weak state institutions and corruption, has reduced oversight on constriction sites.

    The local office of the watchdog group Transparency International stated on Sunday that the incident was the result of lack of regulations and weak enforcement of existing rules in the construction industry because of corruption.

    The local media reported that the inhabitants of the collapsed building had continually complained about the construction and had even had filed a suit against the developers of the new building.

    Morning shows in TV stations were filled with calls from people reporting similar situations.

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