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Police launch criminal probe into CTV collapse

The police in Christchurch are going ahead with a criminal investigation into the collapse of the CTV building on February 22, 2011.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read says he has advised the families of those who died in the building collapse of the decision.

The building collapse resulted in the deaths of 115 people.

The investigation  follows evaluation of information from various sources over the past 18 months.

"Based on this information, we now believe there is sufficient evidence to warrant further criminal investigation into the collapse," Mr Read says.

The Police have engaged the services of engineering consultants Beca to provide an expert opinion about the cause of the CTV building collapse.

Beca was also asked to provide expert opinion on whether there were any serious departures from accepted standards by those involved in the building's design or construction that could amount to gross negligence.

While Police are still waiting some aspects of Beca's assessment, most of the work has now been completed.

A group of investigators has been set up to gather more information and re-interview some of those who have previously given evidence at the Canterbury Earth Quake Royal Commission, as well as any others who could assist with the investigation.

The CTV collapse has also been the subject of Institution of Professional Engineers NZ disciplinary hearings and a coroner’s hearing.

Evidence at these hearings was presented by families of victims.

For example, one young student trapped in the collapsed CTV wreckage texted her father on her cellphone about 4pm: “Daddy I won’t make it”.

Some trapped people survived until midnight or later based on their cellphone communications.

Poor Fire Service organisation was identified during the rescue but other investigations focused on the liability of the designers and builders, particularly engineer David Harding who was employed by Alan Reay.

More by Chris Hutching

Comments and questions

Operating with the same speed as house burglaries

It seems that many have missed the point, the original design withstood the first 7.1 with no lose of life and was still standing but in a damaged condition.
The investigation should be for negligent professional advice while looking at the inspection carried out prior to the second quake and any influence that was placed on the personnel involved.
No building can withstand a quake in excess of an international design criteria without weakening the structure and be expected to survive a second in an already damaged state. The original designer should be applauded that it remained standing from the first quake instead of having the finger pointed at them.

Agree! What will it achieve going after someone for something that originally Didn't kill anyone. It came down in the second event.... so blame is on the inspectors who ok'd it after the first quake. Not the designer.

I partly agree in that the forces most buildings in this city were subjected too far exceeded their design loading, so the catastrophic collapse of only 2 buildings needs to be seen in that context. However saying that " no building " can sustain damage from the first EQ and then suffer another big event without collapsing is clearly incorrect, because most building did exactly that. Most large buildings were damaged in some shape or form following the first EQ (as anyone living In this city at the time will know) and only a small minority were demolished by the time of the 2nd EQ - but the vast majority did not collapse. There was clearly something different about the two that did. I agree this doesn't necessarily imply negligence on the part of the designers, but what you're saying doesn't imply a lack of negligence either. Only someone immersed in the detailed facts around this issue and with the necessary expertise is qualified to make any comment on the negligence or otherwise of the designers.

With the current attitude within the Police, they should be careful what they take an interest in, Pike river was a good example, interfering in mine rescue stopping a perfectly well oiled organisation doing what it does best, we know the result there. With the limited knowledge the Police have and no doubt picking on "professional experts" as key advices it can only end in disaster and embarrassment in some cases for those who deserve it.

It seems to me that "the powers that be" wont be satisfied until someone suicides over the pressure and leaves a family behind. God forbid that should happen.
We had two extremely powerful earthquakes that not only killed those in the CTV but also many others around the city. Are those that deemed those buildings and structures safe all accountable as well. Not on your Nelly. There's been a witch hunt here and those who orchestrated it should hang their heads in shame. How on earth did a parapet fall on a bus after it was deemed unsafe or the Pynes building fail killing people. Agree with PJS the council inspections seem to have simply been white washed over .
This was a highly unusual series of events and im sorry for the family's of those who were lost but we really need to get a grip on acts of God and best intent.
I went to 4 funerals of close friends after the earthquakes and the words that went through my head each time wasn't someone's to blame but " Bloody Earthquakes" .