Ski-jumping complex collapsed due to basic engineering mistakes, experts say

Ski-jumping complex collapsed due to basic engineering mistakes, experts say

Gülistan Alagöz HÜRRİYET / ERZURUM
Ski-jumping complex collapsed due to basic engineering mistakes, experts say

The modern complex, was built for the 2011 Winter Universiade in Erzurum. AA Photo

The collapse of a brand new ski-jumping complex at the Palandöken ski resort in eastern Turkey, which resulted in a landslide, was caused by basic engineering failures, such as the construction of two artificial ponds near the top of the landing slope, experts have said.

The modern complex, which cost around 94 million Turkish Liras in taxpayers’ money, was built for the 2011 Winter Universiade in Erzurum, the first major international sporting event held in eastern Anatolia.

At first, officials hinted that the landslide which caused by heavy rains, but experts who have spoken to daily Hürriyet refuted the claims, stating that the design contained a number of structural deficiencies, making the structure prone to landslides.

“We normally lighten the weight on the top of the hill to reduce the risk of a landslide. But those engineers have, on the contrary, put more weight by building [two artificial] ponds [at the top of the hill]. Such areas create more weight for the slope. It may resist at first, but at a certain point, that resistance will break,” said Ahmet Ercan, a professor in geophysics at Istanbul Technical University. One of the ponds was located only 100 meters from the slope.

Ercan also said any leak from the pond would add further weight to the land, accelerating the possibility of a landslide.

“All geophysics specialists in Erzurum know the risk. Even though the necessary infrastructure works were made, the idea of a pond was a mistake. This is an extraordinary engineering error. Such a mistake in this kind of project is both surprising and disgraceful,” Ercan said.

Tender conquerors

Sarıdağlar İnşaat, the company that built the ski resort, has attracted attention by winning a number of tenders for the construction of sporting facilities across the country. The company, which built a stadium in the Central Anatolian province of Konya and several sporting facilities in Ankara, also constructed an airport last year in the eastern province of Bingöl.

Officials from Sarıdağlar İnşaat declined to comment on the matter, saying an investigation into the collapse of the structure was still ongoing.

During the last decade, numerous grand construction projects have been taking place throughout the country, adding to Turkey’s recent construction boom. Nevertheless, the construction firms have recently come under criticism due to their accessibility in receiving business tenders and land acquisitions from local authorities.