The locals of Lorca, near Murcia, are asking why an earthquake measuring 5.2 should have such a devastating effect on building structures around their town. Experts agree that the shallow depth of the epicentre and the sandy soil of the area certainly contributed to the damage, but what is becoming more evident is that building standards employed during the housing boom might also have something to do with it.
Ask any builder about the quality of building material and you’ll get tut-tutting because when, at the height of the building boom, Spain was consuming 80% of the total cement output of Europe, building material suppliers were struggling to keep up.
Take a standard cinder-block from 10 years ago or more and you could drop it or knock it and it would remain intact, but compare it with one that was made in the last five years or so and you find that if you dropped one, it immediately broke or fractured. It’s the same story with concrete roofing girders.
You won’t find anybody in the building trade that would deny this obvious drop in the quality of basic building material.
Add to this that the building sector just couldn’t get enough labourers, causing a massive influx of unskilled workers from the catering and agricultural trades – waiters that become bricklayers overnight – and you start to get a worrying picture about the quality of the building-boom housing.
That doesn’t mean that everything that was built in the last ten years is of questionable standards, but together with other factors, it is not unreasonable to supposed that it contributed to the structural damage left by the quake in Lorca.
Article will be updated as more info comes in.
(News: Spain, Murcia)