These two apartment buildings in Mansourieh used to be the same height.
But on Oct. 16, the one on the right collapsed, killing 8 residents.
Civil engineers say that there are thousands more buildings at risk, too.
I’m Madeline Edwards, a features reporter and editor at L’Orient Today. I’ve been spending the past month examining what happened to this building.
It’s all thanks to a domino chain of bad construction choices and housing laws.
First, two stories were added to the building in the late 80s, one of them thanks to the so-called “Murr Law,” which allows additional stories.
There’s also water.
Rached Sarkis, a civil engineer who inspected the building, says dangerous levels of moisture in the parking garage under the building corroded the concrete, damaging the load-bearing columns.
By August this year, terrifying cracks began to appear in those columns.
Lebanese housing laws say homeowners themselves are responsible for life-saving building repairs.
But Lebanon is in an economic crisis, and those repairs are expensive.
Workers contracted to fix the columns in the Mansourieh building did little to help.
Just two months later, the cracks appeared again.
This time, the columns collapsed altogether, bringing down the entire building with everyone who was still inside.
Weeks on, displaced residents have been forced to seek housing elsewhere.
Some have been sleeping in their cars.
As winter settles in, only this past week have residents begun to receive housing vouchers from the municipality, to rent homes elsewhere.