Families of Zolitūde tragedy demand memorial

The families of victims of the Zolitude tragedy believe that all objects at the site of the disaster need to be dismantled and evacuated, including the 12-story apartment building towering adjacently to the doomed structure.

Victims’ and their families support group Zolitūde 21/11 spokeswoman Regīna Ločmele told the media Tuesday that their viewpoint should take precedence over any other concerns regarding the future of the remaining construction object. All decisions must be coordinated closely with the people who live next to the site of the tragedy and are forced to walk by and see it daily, she argued.

A meeting of various victims’ groups is scheduled for August 23 to coordinate a formal statement requesting the total dismantlement of both the collapsed supermarket structure as well as the yet-to-be put-into-service apartment building.

Riga City Council Properties Department head Oļegs Burovs pointed out that decisions on the fate of the apartment building are in the hands of owner-developer Homburg Zolitude, however the local government is urging the company to raze the site in light of moral-ethical concerns.

Earlier today Maxima Latvija corporate spokesman Jānis Beseris explained that the Lithuanian-owned retail chain was not planning any further commercial activity at the site and therefore offered share ownership to the victims’ organizations in the form of a donation.

The site is currently classified as a Category A ruin, considered to be degrading to the environment and dangerous to the public. The City Council on July 4 ordered that the site be fully evacuated within two months’ time of the completion of police investigations into the cause of the tragic collapse of November 21, 2013, when the roof of the Maxima supermarket caved in, killing 54 and injuring dozens of shoppers and staff.

The subsequent public outcry led to the hasty assumption of responsibility and resignation of then-premier Valdis Dombrovskis, who had led the longest-running coalition government of Latvia up to that point.

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