“The house was sinking and I only had time to run to the roof”

The corner ground floow property belonging to Graham and Carol

David Keary, a 60 year old British expat from Brentwood in Essex, and one of the two men rescued from the collapsed property on Wednesday morning in Spain’s Costa Blanca, on Orihuela Costa’s Laguna III urbanisation, said that as he felt the building begin to collapse under his feet he only had time to run upstairs to the solarium.

The pensioner said he is so grateful to have escaped uninjured, adding that he still doesn’t believe that he could have got away with barely a scratch.

Still somewhat stunned and disoriented, Keary, who has lived in Spain for 4 years, told the press that the house, a first floor bungalow, was sinking under his feet and he could see the staircase leading to the house crumble into rubble below. He said that his automatic reaction, which quite probably saved his life, was to run up to the top floor, which at that stage seemed only to be held by a thread.

He also said that for the past weeks he had been listening to building work being carried out by a neighbour, although he didn’t really know what work was being carried out. He is now, however, beginning to wonder if the neighbouring project could have been a contributing factor.

Keary said that he was waiting for the arrival of his wife from the United Kingdom, having bought the property in Orihuela Costa because many of his friends had done so previously. He was attracted to the area by the climate in this area of ​​the Costa Blanca coastline and the large availability of real estate, although now he says he has a lot of explaining to do to his wife.

The other man who was rescued from within the rubble of the ground floor, and also of British origin, remains in the Torrevieja University Hospital, where, although in a satisfactory condition, he is being treated for a respiratory complaint.

The councillor for Foreign Residents, Sofía Álvarez, said that of the eight houses that were badly damaged, including the two that collapsed, only three were permanently occupied, the two belonging to Keary and his rescued neighbour and a family of Indian origin who spent the night in the house of the urbanisation administrator. Three other houses, all uninhabited, are in the possession of a bank, while the owners of the other two are in their countries of origin.

During the remainder of the week it is expected that surveyors from both the Fire Brigade and the Orihuela council will to check the status of the damaged and the neighbouring properties. Currently all the surrounding buildings, including four adjacent streets, have been cordoned off and closed by the police.

Councillor Alvarez, who has met with the three families currently without a home, said that she has asked the authorities to assist by collecting essential personal effects from the properties.

On Thursday several residents with small children, who were evacuated as a precaution were allowed to return to their homes.

Until such time as the urbanisation administrator can hire private security, the City Council has also set up a permanent police patrol to prevent access to the damaged properties and also to prevent thefts.

An expert from the real estate sector, with clients in the urbanisation, has checked the demolished buildings indicating that it is all very strange.  He said that it was something that he had never seen in 20 years of experience in Orihuela Costa that could not be explained because throughout the remainder of the residential estate everything was in good order with no signs of cracks or damage.