Project director charged over Mexico City earthquake deaths

A charge of intentional homicide has been made by police in Mexico City against a construction director for his alleged role in the deaths of two women in a building collapse during September’s earthquake.

The arrest on Monday followed investigations showing failings in the way the twin tower apartment complex in the wealthy district was built.

The case is one of eight investigations into buildings that collapsed in the earthquake that killed more than 200 people.

The accused, Juan Duay Huerta, is director of work management of the Residencial San José building, and was responsible for its construction in the Benito Juárez district, the wealthiest of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs, local media reported.

If he is found guilty the charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. His detention follows the arrest of an unnamed man in October as part of the same investigation.

Probes into the building’s construction techniques found that the foundation system did not correspond to the project’s soil studies, and that its structure lacked steel reinforcement and had a lower grade of cement than is recommended for multistorey apartments.

The building had used masonry foundations left over from a previous building, media reported.

The building, which contained 24 apartments in two towers, was completed in April last year by the Canada Building Group. The women killed in the collapse were Matilde Téllez and Karla Kaori Santos.

The Mexico City earthquake was a magnitude seven event that occurred on 19 September. It collapsed 38 buildings and killed 228 people.

The general comptroller of the capital’s government has opened eight investigations into the collapse of seven buildings built between 2013 and 2017.

Image: A collapsed building in Mexico City (AntoFran/Creative Commons)

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