Poor construction led to severe damage to Chautara Hospital: British experts

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jun 20, 2015-

The team members of the UK-based engineering firm, Rambool, were not surprised when they saw extent of damage that April 25 earthquake had caused on the buildings of Chautara Hospital in Sindhupalchok. There were seemingly simple but appalling flaws in the way the hospital buildings were constructed, the team members shared their findings with the officials at the Health Ministry on Friday.

Among the inspected buildings of the hospital, a column in the hospital’s block-B represented the sheer negligence during the time of construction, Sean Smeltzer, one of the Rambool engineers, said. “The concrete appears to have been poorly compacted at the time of construction, leading to the formation of voids known as honeycombing, visible on the right of the column. The honeycombing is very severe and has left some of the reinforcement exposed. This has resulted in the column being weak at a point where it is subject to high stresses during a seismic event.”

These kinds of construction flaws could have been avoided just by a careful use of vibrators to ensure that the concrete is compact.

The Rambool team had also found a piece of brick on the same, flawed column.

“Bricks should not be used in concrete. Either it might have fallen off into the concrete mistakenly or can be subject to any interpretations. Whatever it is, this reduces its strength,” Smeltzer said.  

The team suspects that similar poor construction practices could have left many buildings vulnerable. The team had inspected nine hospitals--eight inside Kathmandu Valley and one in Sindhupalchok.

Inside Kathmandu Valley, the team had inspected the buildings of Sukraraj Tropical & Infectious Disease Hospital, Paropakar Maternity Hospital, Bir Hospital, Kanti Hospital, Lalitpur Mental Hospital, Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital, Bhaktapur District Hospital and Human Organ Transplant Centre.

“We saw that majority of the old buildings that have been damaged need to be demolished,” said Jeremy Foster, another Rambool engineer. “There were also buildings that could just undergo minor refurbishment before operating their services.”

Published: 21-06-2015 08:02

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