The garage complex that collapsed earlier this week in Tel Aviv, killing at least three workers, was inspected in June and was not found to pose “significant” safety hazards, and the collapse was the result of an engineering failure, a Knesset panel was told on Thursday.
The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee on Thursday summoned representatives from the Danya Cebus construction company, various government ministries, and police to address Monday’s fatal collapse at the building site in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood.
Varda Edwards, the head of the Economy Ministry’s Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene, said the site of the garage complex — which was nearing completion — was not found to have “significant flaws” when it was inspected in June.
“There were no significant flaws,” she told the Knesset committee, describing it overall as a “relatively good inspection.”
Echoing Edwards, the chairman of the Danya Cebus company insisted the building site complied with government safety standards.
“It’s not an issue of safety,” said Ronen Ginsburg, adding that an engineer had supervised the project. “It was an engineering failure.”
Ginsburg vowed his company would cooperate fully with police. “We won’t conceal anything and we will hand over all the materials needed for the investigation.”
Details of the investigation remained under a gag order on Thursday, with a police representative present at the hearing refusing to comment on reports a person had been arrested in connection with the accident.
Israel Police superintendent Iris Barak indicated there was insufficient evidence to prosecute but said the investigation was ongoing. She also said police were weighing opening a new police unit for work accidents.
Amnon Cohen, a representative for the Housing Ministry, urged the state to crack down on those responsible for accidents at construction sites, noting that there were hundreds of deaths in the past several years, but just six resulted in indictments for negligence or manslaughter.
“A worker doesn’t just die at a construction site. It isn’t always the contractor’s fault, but sometimes it is,” he said.
Two victims killed in the collapse were named on Wednesday as Oleg Yakubov, aged 60 from Tel Aviv, and Dennis Dyachenko, 28, a Ukrainian national employed in Israel.
The name of a third fatality, Ihad Ajhaj, 34, from Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah, was made public on Tuesday.
Three workers were still buried under rubble of the four-story subterranean garage on Wednesday, as hope dwindled that the hundreds of rescue personnel digging through the site would pull them out alive.
The family of Oleg Yakubov said Wednesday that his body has not yet been released as they cannot afford to pay for his funeral.