SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The concrete wall along a road in the Dominican Republic’s capital that collapsed over the weekend, killing nine people during heavy rains, was poorly designed, experts said Monday.
The Caribbean nation’s government has come under scrutiny, with experts saying it has been warning for more than 20 years about the wall’s failures and lack of efforts to fix it.
“It has weaknesses in the design,” civil engineer Christian Rojas told The Associated Press. “No anchors were placed, which is why the wall collapsed.”
Rojas, former president of the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors, said the force of the water in the nearby flooded street, as well as the type of wall that was built, led to the collapse.
Dominican geologist Osiris de Leon noted that the first warnings about the wall were issued more than two decades ago. He posted a story from December 1999 on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which El Siglo quoted the college recommending that the wall be rebuilt because it was cracked and “could fall and cause a tragic accident.”
Authorities said the collapse occurred on Saturday in Santo Domingo when part of the wall that runs along February 27 Street, which witnesses heavy traffic, collapsed, crushing cars and their passengers.
Among the victims were Puerto Rico Attorney General Michael Orozco, his wife, María Nereda Martinez, and his in-laws, according to Javier Rivera, president of the island’s prosecutors’ association. Martinez was pregnant.
“Comrade Orozco was having a wonderful personal moment with his family, and as a young and committed lawyer, he had a promising future ahead of him,” Rivera said.
Authorities said Dominican Police General Eduardo Cabrera Castillo was also killed.
Andres Matos, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works, rejected accusations that the government had not properly maintained the wall and nearby infrastructure.
“These tunnels and bridges are constantly maintained,” Matos told the AP. He attributed the collapse to other reasons, but declined to provide details.
“The ministry is ordering a deep structural investigation, which means we should not anticipate the causes,” he said.
The collapse occurred As the tropical disturbance moves across the western Caribbean regionThe Dominican Republic is hit by heavy rain over the weekend. Authorities said at least 24 people died, including those crushed by the wall.
Authorities said the storm tore off the roofs of hundreds of homes and cut off access to nearly a dozen communities.
Officials in neighboring Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, said four people had died and two others were missing. They added that dozens remained in shelters after the storm flooded hundreds of homes and isolated several communities.
Associated Press reporter Danica Cotto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”