It’s a sad day

No jokes. No sarcasm. No pictures. Today is a truly sad day for Latvia.

Yesterday evening, the roof of a supermarket in the outskirts of Riga collapsed. As is the way with these things, it happened at around 6pm, just as people like you and I were popping in for a few bits and pieces on the way home from work.

When it first hit BBC News at around 11pm, it was reported that 2 people had died and dozens more had been injured. This morning, every time I walked past the TV, the death toll had risen. It currently stands at 48, but they still don’t know how many people are trapped inside. The media are asking friends and relatives to call people so they can locate them by the ringing of their mobile phones.

Among the dead are three emergency workers who were trying to help the shoppers trapped inside. These brave people were probably on less money than most Westerners would get out of bed for.

In a small country like Latvia, with an already dwindling population of less than 2 million, a senseless loss of life like this hits especially hard. People need a reason, someone to blame. Theories are flying around. Was the construction company shoddy? Was a sub-par building approved due to a few brown envelopes changing hands? In Latvia, both are possible, if not probable. A criminal investigation has been launched.

In a country that’s more than 50% forest, believe it or not, they were in the process of building a roof garden on top of this shopping centre. Could the roof just not take the extra weight? Were all of the building materials carelessly stored on one part of the roof? Three days of heavy rain probably didn’t help. Whatever the reasons, 500 sq. metres of roof collapsed. The electronic doors automatically shut trapping a lot of people, who might have had a chance of getting out, inside.

As for me, I was nowhere near the supermarket. None of my friends live anywhere near that district either. But my students, colleagues, and the acquaintances I’ve made in three years of living here? Like many others, I just don’t know.

I guess all we can hope for now is that the death toll doesn’t continue to rise. And that the families and friends of the victims, and the people of Latvia in general, demand and receive answers – and justice – for this completely avoidable tragedy.


About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Latvia, Riga, Social Issues and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to It’s a sad day

  1. Pingback: Finally, it’s the positive post… | Expat Eye on Latvia

  2. Lila says:

    ive also heard about cashiers forbidden to leave the building after the alarm went off.. they were supposed to count the money and close the cash registers first or smth like that…. WTF

    the worst tragedies are the ones that could have prevented 100%. u cant always prevent flood, earthquake, terrorsim but this could have been avoided by having common sense and not cutting corners on building materials. i hope the owners of the maxima chain and those responsible for the mistakes in construction will pay the family members of the victims a full compensation… although one cant really compensate such loss anyway.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, you can’t really compensate kids who’ve lost their parents. I think they’re paying them a stipend of 500 lats a month until they’re 18 or something like that. They’re also paying all medical expenses. Nothing seems like enough though.

  3. Luke says:

    Such a tragedy. I knew nothing about the doors shutting people inside. What a ghastly nightmare for those trapped. Idiocy of some form is so often muddled up in disasters. Thanks for this. I learned and I felt, both good things.

  4. Nene says:

    Glad to hear you’re ok. So sad.

  5. Oh that’s so awful! So glad to hear you are safe. Hope the community gets the justice and answers and support they need.

  6. Pingback: It’s a sad day | There Are So Many Things Wrong With This

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  8. As soon as we heard the news, we checked the webs to make sure you were safe. So glad to hear you were far away from it and that your friends are safe too!

  9. Pecora Nera says:

    Mrs Sensible and I are relieved you are safe, when we heard the news we came and checked your blog. Take care

    PN & Mrs Sensible

  10. I saw images of this tragedy in the French newspapers…totally sad. (Suzanne)

  11. This was all over the Italian and UK news last night. I was shocked and wanted to visit your blog as I thought you might have written about it.
    What a real tragedy.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I was in shock for most of the day but felt that I had to write something. Hardest post I’ve ever written. They’ve stopped searching as the rest of the roof collapsed and it’s too dangerous. They’re not going to find anyone else alive.

  12. linnetmoss says:

    Very sorry to hear this news. In such a small country, I’m sure everyone is affected or has a friend who is. They will all be in my thoughts today.

  13. bevchen says:

    I saw this on BBC News and immediately thought of you. Glad you weren’t anyway near it.

    So sad, and such a senseless loss of life. For the sake of cutting a few corners… and a roof garden, of all things 😦

  14. cornishkylie says:

    I too thought of you when I saw the news, so awful. Makes you appreciate life when you think of the people who lost theirs popping to the shop like any other day.

  15. Kaufman's Kavalkade says:

    Probably a combination of all of the above as to your theory. The engineers and accident reconstrucionists will be all over this.

    So will guys like me, sadly.

  16. nancytex2013 says:

    Linda, I heard about this a few hours ago, and since you are the only person in Latvia that I “know”, I immediately thought of you and sent a silent prayer into the ether. So glad to hear you are okay, and so, so sorry to hear about the huge loss of life. My thoughts are with all those affected.

  17. This is terrible. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

  18. A roof garden…. 😦

    • Expat Eye says:

      I just donated. Of course no amount of money can bring back those lives but I hope the money goes to the people who really need it.

      • Zane says:

        We have been counting victims since last evening and each time praying it would be the last. But those numbers aren’t merciful…
        Thank you for any support. Any good words or just a thought and being strong for all of us… This brings us all together in an emotional level and even higher.
        Next three days are announced to be countrywide morning days. So just light a candle in window and pray for the families of lost ones.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Of course. It’s the least I can do. Stay strong.

  19. That is so sad. So much loss all over the world already.
    My heart goes out to the victims. 😦

  20. Gypsy says:

    I can’t begin to express my sorrow. Last year, doha experienced an unfathomable tragedy, where a local shopping mall fire trapped daycare workers and children. 19 precious souls died on that day, and we still have no answers. Prayers sent you way.

  21. barbedwords says:

    Such dreadful news and my heart goes out to the family and friends of those who died in this terrible tragedy.

  22. 1WriteWay says:

    Indeed, very sad. I hope no one you know is a victim of this tragedy. And I am so glad you weren’t there when it happened.

  23. Zane says:

    Already 50…
    If you want to help – you can go to the spot – talk and support families of those who are still trapped inside and are desperately hoped to be alive (though statistics are harsh – since this morning, none have been found alive). Many people are bringing tea, blankets and food for those who are waiting there, others are mourning and lighting candles in memory of the victims.

    If you want and can – there are open lines for financial support of the broken families:

    Pray for Latvia.
    All nation is crying, coming together, mourning and supporting each other. This is a tragedy for all of us.

    • Expat Eye says:

      It truly is. I’ll be making a donation. I’m currently writing another article about it for another website – the more the world knows about it, the better the chance for answers. Thank you for the information on the donation line – I see they’ve already raised a lot of money. People really do come together in a tragedy.

      • Zane says:

        But of course we do.. we are no heartless monsters. Though unfortunately I have had one conversation with let’s say clearly – idiot, who think this doesn’t matter and he don’t care because it’s not his problem. Good news for me was that he has given up Latvian passport and now lives in UK and works in some factory.

        About donations. There is also a telephone line open, where with one call you can donate 1 Ls – 9 000 63 85 . But I presume it might work only in Latvia.
        3 emergency worker families will receive 50 000 Ls each from government. But of course… money can’t turn back people to life.

  24. Oh my gosh, that is terrible. So sad as you say. Precious lives lost, families forever changed. My heart goes out to them all. And hugs to you, these things always have a way of reminding ius how far we are from those we love xx

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I’ve been getting texts and messages all day. Anybody in Riga knows I’d be nowhere near it but for my friends and family outside LV? They had no clue! Such a waste.

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