14ymedio, Havana, 8 July 2021 — Shortly after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, part of the building that occupies the corner of San Lázaro and Galiano, in Central Havana, collapsed. The property is inhabited by multiple families, and for years, according to a resident, “it could not withstand a punch.”
According to the official press “no injuries are reported” after the fall of a good part of the building’s eaves, which are halfway between the neoclassical and baroque styles. The crash coincided with the Covid-19 curfew time in the Cuban capital, on a corner that was commonly extremely crowded in other circumstances.
Traffic was diverted from the early hours of Thursday, to allow for the collection of the debris. In a visit by 14ymedio to the area, the presence of government officials was notable and a demolition crane was seen working in the area.
On the part of the building where the eaves collapsed, no signs of people residing in the apartments were visible, but on the other side there were clothes hanging out to dry and some people leaning out of the windows.
For a long time, the residents have been complaining that the building is in very bad condition. “It’s a nightmare, people live there but at any moment it could collapse completely. For years the building has been in poor condition, and it is a miracle that it hasn’t collapsed,” said one of the residents of the area, who was rubbernecking this morning from the corner of Galiano.
“I just passed a section of San Lázaro street that goes from Belascoaín to Galiano and the truth is that you can’t walk on the sidewalk. I came down the middle of the street because everything is falling down, all the balconies, the facades, the buildings, no one should live here, it’s scary to walk around here,” said another resident in the area.
Central Havana is one of the most populated municipalities in the capital and is an area that, for decades, has been characterized by the high presence of tenements, mostly with infrastructure problems and overcrowding. Many of its buildings were built at the beginning of the 20th century and have not received repairs beyond painting the facade painting for more than fifty years.
The buildings near the Malecón suffer especially from the effects of the saltpeter and none of the various government programs have solved the problem of the frequent collapses.
Last April, a man was seriously injured when two buildings and part of a third collapsed on Malecón avenue. The buildings were semi-dilapidated, enclosed by metal fences, uninhabited and at the time of the collapse they were being demolished by construction workers.
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