Defective studs led to Mexico City metro collapse, attorney general says

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MEXICO CITY – Misplaced poles, obvious design flaws and poor welds led to a collapse of the capital’s metro last spring that left 26 people dead and dozens injured, Mexico City’s attorney general said Thursday in publishing the results of a month-long survey.

The results, detailed at a press conference, were consistent with several of the findings of a New York Times investigation, which found that improper installation of metal poles was at the heart of the fatal May 3 crash.

The metal posts were the key to the whole construction, creating a composite unit between the steel beams and the concrete slabs. Once the posts failed, the entire structure fatally weakened, ultimately causing it to collapse.

The studs “connecting the concrete slab to the metal beams were in the wrong place,” said Ulises Lara López, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office. “In the sections where the concrete slabs were coming off the beams, all the posts were improperly installed in irregular patterns. “

Such fundamental flaws, Mr Lara said, could not have been detected by routine inspection or avoided by regular maintenance.

Releasing her office’s findings on Thursday, Attorney General Ernestina Godoy Ramos described the report as “a thorough, serious scientific investigation by experts.”

An independent report released earlier this year by Norwegian risk management firm DNV also revealed serious construction errors, including with the placement and welding of metal poles. The government of Mexico had hired DNV to examine the causes of the accident.

The metro crash triggered a political shockwave, involving some of Mexico’s most powerful people, including Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who was mayor of Mexico City when the line was built.

Mr Ebrard and current mayor Claudia Sheinbaum are both expected to run for president in the 2024 election.

The collapsed section of the metro was built by Carso Group, a vast conglomerate owned by one of Mexico’s richest and most powerful men, Carlos Slim, a close ally of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. (Mr. Slim was also once a significant shareholder of The New York Times Company.)

Ms Godoy said her office would initiate criminal proceedings against those found to be responsible for the collapse, although she did not identify anyone. “Just as our mandate is justice, our priority has been and will continue to be the victims,” she said.


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