Woman Dies in Havana After Building Collapse

The victim was trapped when the building, located at 1061 Monte Street, between Fernandina and Romay, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, collapsed. (Granma)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 July 2020 — María Magdalena Olivares Miller, age 68, is the second fatality in less than a week as a result of the collapse of a building in Havana. The victim was trapped when the building, located at 1061 Monte Street, between Fernandina and Romay, in the Havana municipality of Cerro, collapsed.

The events happened this Thursday around 6:30 in the evening, when the roof of her apartment partially collapsed when the roof of the building fell. It took three hours for members of the National Rescue and Salvation Detachment to remove the woman from the rubble, according to the official press. After receiving first aid at the scene, the victim was taken to the Calixto García hospital, where she died.

According to official information, four families resided in the building, in which there are two structurally damaged apartments.

The area where the collapse occurred is one of the most densely populated areas in Havana’s Cerro municipality and it was also one of the houses with the worst construction status. Old mansions from the early twentieth century that became crowded quarters abound in a neighborhood which is inhabited, mostly, by a population with very low incomes.

The rains of recent days have aggravated the situation in the area, especially in houses already showing major damages such as leaks, cracks in the facade and columns, wooden shoring or with partial collapses.

This is the second death in less than a week after a Community Services worker lost his life on Saturday in the partial collapse of a building in San Miguel and Belascoaín, in Central Havana. On that occasion, the official press did not report the death, but it came to light on Wednesday when the neighbors raised the alarm to this newspaper.

In contrast, this time the state newspaper Granma dedicated several paragraphs to the information, illustrated with images of the rescue work, in which the work of the paramedics, firefighters and even representatives of Cupet (Cuba’s largest oil company) and the Havana Water Company are praised for going to the site.

Deaths as a result of the poor state of housing in Havana are unending, but the residents of the most affected municipalities of the capital have not managed to get a response to demands that date back decades, asking the authorities to take measures to stop a deterioration resulting in a constant public danger to passers-by.

In March 2019, a death occurred in a building collapsed inCerro and in that case the residents had been requesting repairs for 15 years.

At the end of 2019, a mother and her 13-year-old daughter in the municipality of Playa lost their lives in an event that also injured the minor’s grandmother, who managed to get out of the incident alive.

In July of 2015 four people died in Old Havana when a building collapsed while its residents were sleeping.

The most recent known case, until this tragic July, was the death in January of this year of three girls aged 11 and 12, when a balcony collapsed in Old Havana.

Some 1.7 million houses, that is to say 39% of Cubas housing stock, is in a fair or poor state, according to the Housing authorities. The situation is particularly serious in Havana.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.