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The first of Tijuana's rain tragedies this season

Roof section of Centro Comercial Otay falls, kills one, traps others

"The rains were always causing water leaks and cracks are everywhere."
"The rains were always causing water leaks and cracks are everywhere."

The storm that hit Tijuana and San Diego on Monday, December 13 caused the collapse of a section of the roof of Centro Comercial Otay in Tijuana. This plaza is one of the oldest in that neighborhood, and the rain pushed down the roof and caused the death of a 63-year-old woman. Some business owners were injured or trapped in the debris.

Carlos Santiago, who has a printing business in the plaza, survived but was buried by the debris. “Everything happened in seconds. I was working closely to my business entrance with my headphones on, so I couldn't hear the roof falling. I reacted when the ceiling broke over me; my instinctual reaction was to escape and I jumped to the other side of my workshop."

Proteccion Civil (civil defense) workers near the collapse

The debris trapped him in his workshop for two hours until firefighters extracted him by making a hole in a wall of the room.

“According to my doctor, that movement was so abrupt that it caused problems in my back and neck. I’m currently treating it. Until now the plaza administrators and the insurance are covering costs of the medical attention. At some point, we’ll start a lawsuit."

Santiago and other business owners say that the building has had signs of structural problems, and in winter, the rains were always causing water leaks and cracks are everywhere inside the plaza. “It was well known among us (business owner and workers) how damaged the structure is. Almost all locals have problems of leaking water this time of the year.”

The plaza’s closure due to an infrastructural assessment by Proteccion Civil has affected more than 300 people who work there. Luis Matus, who works in a school uniform workshop, was not directly affected by the accident but indirectly by the building being out of commission. “Economically it’s going to affect us because we won’t have work in Christmas.”

The damage assessment will tell what might happen with the building, meanwhile, Santiago will do the same with his equipment. He thinks he could have lost hundreds of thousands of pesos.

“All the equipment I work with is heavy machinery, they are expensive, I haven’t worked on my inventory but losses are at least up to hundreds of thousands. Without my equipment I can’t work.” He said.

Another two people died in Tijuana that same day, both after being dragged by water currents. One in the working-class neighborhood Mariano Matamoros in the east of the city; the other body was found in Colonia Aviasion near Tijuana's Country Club.

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"The rains were always causing water leaks and cracks are everywhere."
"The rains were always causing water leaks and cracks are everywhere."

The storm that hit Tijuana and San Diego on Monday, December 13 caused the collapse of a section of the roof of Centro Comercial Otay in Tijuana. This plaza is one of the oldest in that neighborhood, and the rain pushed down the roof and caused the death of a 63-year-old woman. Some business owners were injured or trapped in the debris.

Carlos Santiago, who has a printing business in the plaza, survived but was buried by the debris. “Everything happened in seconds. I was working closely to my business entrance with my headphones on, so I couldn't hear the roof falling. I reacted when the ceiling broke over me; my instinctual reaction was to escape and I jumped to the other side of my workshop."

Proteccion Civil (civil defense) workers near the collapse

The debris trapped him in his workshop for two hours until firefighters extracted him by making a hole in a wall of the room.

“According to my doctor, that movement was so abrupt that it caused problems in my back and neck. I’m currently treating it. Until now the plaza administrators and the insurance are covering costs of the medical attention. At some point, we’ll start a lawsuit."

Santiago and other business owners say that the building has had signs of structural problems, and in winter, the rains were always causing water leaks and cracks are everywhere inside the plaza. “It was well known among us (business owner and workers) how damaged the structure is. Almost all locals have problems of leaking water this time of the year.”

The plaza’s closure due to an infrastructural assessment by Proteccion Civil has affected more than 300 people who work there. Luis Matus, who works in a school uniform workshop, was not directly affected by the accident but indirectly by the building being out of commission. “Economically it’s going to affect us because we won’t have work in Christmas.”

The damage assessment will tell what might happen with the building, meanwhile, Santiago will do the same with his equipment. He thinks he could have lost hundreds of thousands of pesos.

“All the equipment I work with is heavy machinery, they are expensive, I haven’t worked on my inventory but losses are at least up to hundreds of thousands. Without my equipment I can’t work.” He said.

Another two people died in Tijuana that same day, both after being dragged by water currents. One in the working-class neighborhood Mariano Matamoros in the east of the city; the other body was found in Colonia Aviasion near Tijuana's Country Club.

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