A recently married woman and another pregnant person were among nine people who were killed when the vehicles were crushed by a concrete wall during a weekend rainstorm in the Dominican Republic
The victims were traveling along the heavily transited 27 of February Avenue in the country’s capital, Santo Domingo, when the structure near the entrance of a tunnel collapsed in one piece, crushing the cars and their occupants.
Video footage showed water quickly filling the two-lane road as desperate bystanders attempted to rescue the victims from the crushed vehicles.
The victims were identified as Solange Méndez, 32, and her father, Omar Méndez, 70. Solange was on her way home from a doctor’s appointment when the wall crashed over their car. She was an architect and had celebrated her wedding September 30 and was planning on moving to France with her husband at the end of the month.
Among the other victims was Michael Orozco, a 30-year-old prosecutor in Bayamón, Puerto Rico; his wife, María Martínez, 32; and his in-laws, Awilda Vázquez, 68, and Ramón Martínez, 75. Martínez and her husband had revealed last week that they were expecting their first child.
Solange Méndez, who wed her husband Alexis Depp in September, was among the nine people who were killed Saturday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic after a tunnel wall collapsed and crushed the cars they were traveling on. Méndez was planning on moving with Depp to France
Omar Méndez (pictured) and his daughter Solange Méndez were among the nine people who were confirmed dead by Dominican Republic authorities. They were on their way home from a doctor’s appointment when a wall near a tunnel entrance collapsed on top of their vehicle and several others
Puerto Rico prosecutor Michael Orozco (second from right) with his wife, María Martínez (second from left) and his in-laws, Ramón Martínez (left) and Awilda Vázquez (right) were killed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic after rain storms severely damaged a tunnel wall, causing it to fall on top of their vehicle
Bystanders near the entrance to a tunnel entrance on the 27 of February Avenue attempt to rescue victims from one the vehicles that were crushed by a wall
Also killed were Dominican Police General Eduardo Cabrera Castillo, 65; Haitian national Bonet Dobelier, 35; and a Haitian woman, who has not been identified because she was not carrying her identification documents.
The wall collapse happened during a tropical disturbance that slammed the western Caribbean, battering the Dominican Republic with heavy rainfall throughout the weekend.
Authorities have confirmed at least 24 people died, including those in the accident.
The storm caused rivers to overflood in the provinces of San Cristonal, Azua and Monte Plata, where at least 300 homes were severely affected in the town of Sabana Grande de Boyá.
A group of civil engineers believe the tunnel wall may not have collapsed had the Dominican Republic government heeded their advice 24 years ago when they brought up concerns over the structure’s failures and lack of urgency to repair them.
Solange Méndez was an architect and had celebrated her wedding September 30. She was planning on moving to France with her husband at the end of the month.
Puerto Rico prosecutor Michael Orozco and his wife María Martínez had announced last week that they were expecting their first child
Motorists stopped at the entrance of a tunnel on the 27 of February Avenue in Santo Domingo to try to rescue the trapped vehicle occupants
A large section of a wall at the entrance of a tunnel in the Dominican Republic collapsed Saturday night, crushing several cars and killing nine occupants. Experts say the wall fracture was caused by the force of the water in a flooded adjacent avenue, combined with the type of wall that was built
Cristina Rojas, the former president of the Dominican College of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors, told the Associated Press, the wall collapsed due to the force of the water in a flooded adjacent avenue, combined with the type of wall that was built.
‘It has weaknesses in the design,’ Rojas said. ‘No anchors were placed, and that is why the wall collapsed.’
A rainstorm on November 12, 1999 – six weeks after the road opened to motorists for the first time – sent several parts of the tunnel entrance crashing to the road, although no passengers were injured or killed.
Osiris de León, a geologist, recalled the incident with a series of newspaper clippings from 1999 that he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, where he said that future storms could produce similar fractures to the wall and road surface.
Rescuers search for people trapped under a tunnel wall that collapsed on several vehicles after heavy rains on 27 of February Avenue in Santo Domingo on Saturday
Rescue teams carry a deceased person from the place where a wall collapsed at the entrance of a tunnel in Santo Domingo on Saturday. At least nine people, including four residents from Puerto Rico were confirmed dead
In 1999, a group of experts with Dominican College of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors recommended the wall be rebuilt after chunks of the wall collapsed. They argued at the time that since it was cracked, it could ‘fall and cause a tragic accident’
He recommended the wall be rebuilt because it was cracked and ‘it can fall and cause a tragic accident.’
Instead of repairing the entire structure, the Ministry of Public Works opted to only fix the damaged section.
‘What happened in 1999 was the same thing that happened now, it rained torrentially, the limestone in Santo Domingo is very porous and very cavernous,’ de León told Listín Diario newspaper. ‘This causes this limestone to become saturated quickly and when it becomes saturated, what is called pore pressure rises,’ he said.
Andrés Matos, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works, rejected accusations that the government did not properly maintain the wall and nearby infrastructure.
‘These tunnels and overpasses are given permanent maintenance,’ Matos told the AP. He attributed the collapse to other causes but declined to provide details.
‘The ministry is ordering a deep, structuralist investigation, which implies that we should not get ahead of the causes,’ he said.