Rush to clean up site may destroy evidence

  • 2013-11-25
  • TBT staff, RIGA

The process of razing the gutted Riga-Zolitude Maxima XX store, possibly before local or international investigators have had a chance to begin an investigation into the catastrophe, is now under way.

This is as rescue crews continue to comb the remaining zones that have not been searched yet, reports LETA.

Measuring devices set up Sunday morning (Nov. 24) detected no hazard in the remaining structure. Extra precaution was called for after the sudden collapse of a third section of the roof Saturday night.

Special heavy equipment is in place at the scene to conduct the tearing down of the edifice, or precisely, what is left of it. A complete search of the grounds will take place afterwards.

The question presented is: what is the rush to demolish the structure, before an official investigation has had a chance to get in, and start to collect all important information. Razing the damaged structure includes the likelihood that evidence into what caused the roof to collapse is being destroyed.

This is important, especially considering what Latvian President Andris Berzins, in an interview on Latvian Television on Nov. 23, said: that the supermarket tragedy was basically “mass murder” of defenseless civilians.

“I invite those involved to think about what he or she has done, so that after the mourning period we can begin to take action. This incident is basically the mass murder of a large number of defenseless civilians. We must act accordingly,” Berzins said.

The politician said that this tragedy cannot be called an unfortunate mishap as “nature cannot be blamed this time.”

According to the president, in a normal country, those directly responsible are held accountable, and this must be done here as well. Berzins also added that a team of independent experts from abroad must be put together immediately, who are not in any way connected with the local construction business in Latvia.

The death toll stands at 54 with several dozen injured due to the collapsed roof, which came down Thursday evening. It is also still unknown how many people may be still trapped underneath the rubble.

In an interview on the LNTtelevision channel on Nov. 23, State Police Chief Ints Kuzis said that the police investigation into the supermarket tragedy will be quick, effective and thorough, though razing the site now puts doubt on this assertion.

The police have already gathered a team of leading construction experts to help with the investigation. They believe that the main reason the building’s roof collapsed was due to construction violations.