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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

German buildings 'too weak' against attacks

Munich (dpa) - Engineers have warned the German federal government that many of its buildings could totter and collapse after a terrorist attack, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.

It said the "shocking" findings disproved previous assumptions that tall ferroconcrete buildings would remain standing, despite being damaged by bombs or aircraft strikes.

The study, by the military university in Munich, was commissioned after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when both 110-floor, steel-framed towers of the World Trade Center in New York collapsed within two hours after being hit and set on fire by aircraft.

Spiegel, in its issue to appear Monday, said engineers used explosives against ferroconcrete beams and assessed how strong they were afterwards. It quoted engineering professor Norbert Gebbeken saying, "The results were shocking."

The survival strength of buildings was important because it determined whether it was safe for rescuers to enter them.

The magazine said the Construction Ministry had already surveyed embassies and other federal property abroad and recommended strengthening at some. A few had been closed for the interim.

But the ministry would not issue new guidelines for German soil till a standards body, the DIN, accepted the report.


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