Background / When cutting costs costs lives
The Versailles banquet hall disaster in May 2001 was not the first case where flawed construction caused death or injury.
In June 1998, the ceiling of a gym at a Be'er Sheva school collapsed during basketball practice, killing two teen-aged boys and injuring a third. The ceiling collapsed a short time after it was reinforced with Batkal concrete to stop rain water from leaking in. The reinforcement, however, caused the ceiling to buckle as it could not cope with the extra weight, and the supporting pillars were also too weak.
In July 1997, four Australian athletes were killed and 69 injured when the temporary bridge over the polluted Yarkon River collapsed during the opening ceremony at the Maccabiah Games.
In March 1994, three concrete beams from the Shappirim bridge over the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway collapsed, killing two drivers and a Romanian worker who was standing on one of the beams.
According to data from the construction industry, some 50 percent of building flaws are the result of poor planning, 40 percent are due to bad building and 10 percent result from the use of substandarded materials. For example, a commission of inquiry found that flawed planning led to the Maccabi bridge disaster.
The Israeli Association of Independent Engineers and Architects has frequently claimed that the reason for the fall in Israeli building standards is the contractors' frequent desire to cut costs.