Ministry of Tourism is charged with determining responsibilities in the collapse of the Hotel Frances
SD. The Minister of Tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia, announced yesterday through a press note the appointment of a “high level technical commission to investigate and present a report regarding the causes that brought about the collapse of a part of the Hotel Frances, located in the colonial zone of the capital.”
The hotel, including the lobby and part of the second floor, collapsed at near 11 o’clock last Saturday night. The debris fell into Las Mercedes Street, next to the Plaza Merceriño. The well-known hotel had been empty since last Thursday when the management decided to transfer the guests “because of the inconveniences of access due to the work that was being carried out in the area.”
The hotel operations were transferred to the Hostel Nicolas de Ovando, according to a report by the manager of Public Relations of the company, Rita Imbert. In a second press release from the Ministry of Tourism (MiTur), in this case the Coordinating Unit of the Program for Promoting Tourism in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo confirmed that the contractors had cooperated in the transfer.
Yesterday morning the project manager and Deputy Minister of Tourism, architect Maribel Villalona, met with the technical secretary and the environmental secretary of the ayuntamiento of the National District, Sina del Rosario and José Miguel Martinez Guridy; the chief of the Fire Department, General Oscar Guillermo Garcia; the director of the Specialized Corps for Tourist Safety, Colonel Rafael Sosa Dominquez; contract engineers of the project and the owners of the Hotel Frances.
In addition it was announced that independent experts would take part in the analysis of the causes of the event. Upon leaving the meeting, Villalona said very briefly that “the responsibilities will be established” and they will carry out an investigation around the perimeter in order to avoid the occurrence of new incidents. A source indicated that in case they discover the responsibility of MiTur, the ministry would take full responsibility.
In the meantime Francisco Javier Garcia said in his press release: “We regret this incident a lot. I have designated a high level commission, composed of experts, in order to investigate and present a detailed report of what happened.”
The watchmen saved himself
According to a watchman and a neighbor in the Colonial City who were near the hotel, the watchmen who was caring for the installations saved himself by a few minutes.
José Perez, the Haitian watchmen at an office building located on Las Mercedes Street, warned that the ground was giving way to the weight of the stones. “I said to Rubio (José Gomez) that the ground was giving way,” he said. “I told the watchmen who was inside that the ground was giving way and to get out and he got outside.”
A little after 10 o’clock at night, José Gomez recalls that he came from the colmado that was on the corner of Archbishop Meriño, in front of the Mexican Embassy, when he heard the stones moving and then one thunderous sound. “I took off running and soon there was smoke and the cables were shooting sparks. Everything went black and I couldn’t see anything. The dust lasted about half an hour.”
José Perez saw everything from the doorway of the locale that he protected. “This happened all at once. The dust came up. I went inside until it was over because it was something very serious. The electricity went out and when it returned then I went outside,” he ended.
Merchants are angry
Yoselin Dore and her husband, the owners of the Taino Gift Shop in an establishment, located in front of the hotel, requested yesterday to speak with the engineers responsible for the project under the penalty of not permitting further work on the wooden walkway around the debris.
“We are not going to permit one more plank. Find the authorities because they’re not going to put a plank there. So that we can get along. Don’t put a plank down, from here to there nothing more. I can’t support one more,” exclaimed the owner.
As she demanded that they find the persons responsible, the workers answered saying that they didn’t know who their bosses were.
May 4, 2015
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