More than 1,000 old concrete buildings in Los Angeles and hundreds more throughout the county may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.
By the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of these buildings in the city alone would be destroyed, exposing thousands to injury or death, The Times reported. A cross-section of the city lives and works in them: seamstresses in downtown factories, white-collar workers in Ventura Boulevard high-rises and condo dwellers on Millionaires' Mile in Westwood.
Despite their sturdy appearance, many older concrete buildings are vulnerable to the sideways movement of a major earthquake because they don't have enough steel reinforcing bars to hold columns in place, according to the newspaper. Los Angeles officials have known about the dangers for more than 40 years but have failed to force owners to make their properties safer. The city has even rejected calls to make a list of concrete buildings, The Times reported.
In the absence of city action, university scientists compiled the first comprehensive inventory of potentially dangerous concrete buildings in Los Angeles, according to The Times. The scientists, however, have declined to make the information public. They said they are willing to share it with L.A. officials, but only if the city requests a copy.
Recent earthquakes have spotlighted the deadly potential of buildings held up by concrete, The Times reported. A 2011 quake in Christchurch, New Zealand, toppled two concrete office towers, killing 133 people. Many of the 6,000 people killed in a 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, were in concrete buildings.
- City News Service