Thursday, June 20, 2013

Technical Explanation why failure to retrieve the body in Jalan Macalister incident

Further to the technical explanation of the Menara UMNO tragedy provided by MPPP engineers yesterday: The technical briefing was professional and comprehensive,... but not widely circulated. There is still a gap between the technical report from the experts and the reports in the media, leading to the public wondering why the victim's remains cannot be recovered from the impact site.

The simple reason is that MPPP has literally hit a concrete wall in the effort to recover the remains.

During the freak storm, the top section of the wing/fin-wall on the UMNO Tower sheared off and came down on Jalan Macalister. This section of the wall was approximately 38m long and was mostly constructed of reinforced concrete. The mass of the section may have been as much as 200 metric tons, and it fell from a height of approximately 70m.

The photos below are still images captured from a police CCTV that captured the moment of impact. The first frame shows the concrete mass impacting the victim's car. In the next frame, the car completely vanishes from view as it is driven into the impact crater.

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The 38m long knife-shaped concrete structure came down nearly vertically - 'point'-first, directly on the driver's section, shearing it off and punching it straight down, while the remainder of the car was dragged down to about 9m. The top 10m of the concrete section broke off on impact and shattered on the surface while the remaining 28m penetrated the ground intact.

From the evidence so far, it appears that the driver's section and Lim's remains may have been driven as deep as 30m (the height of a 10-storey building) into the ground, with a nearly 30m long solid block of steel-reinforced concrete on top of it.

That solid reinforced concrete section is what stopped the excavations at 9m. The only way to get down there is to painstakingly break up the concrete mass, but due to poor soil conditions, groundwater, and the sheer mass of the object, it would jeopardize the stability of the foundations of the surrounding buildings.

It was a difficult decision to leave the victim's remains in place, but the decision was taken in consultation and with the informed permission of the family. A prayer ceremony was held at Jalan Macalister yesterday morning to lay the late Lim Chin Aik to rest.

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