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Houses in Schaerbeek evacuated due to risk of collapse

The pavement on Avenue du Diamant after the fire services attended a water leak (© Pompiers de Bruxelles)
10:22 19/10/2020

Following the extensive subsidence caused by a broken water pipe under a pavement on Avenue du Diamant in Schaerbeek on Friday, some 15 people have been relocated by the municipality to temporary housing while an assessment is carried out on their homes. In total, 45 residents have been affected by the event.

Brussels firefighters responded to a water leak under a house on the streets early on Friday morning. “Firefighters were called at about 6.20 on Friday to a collapse of the pavement on Avenue du Diamant in Schaerbeek caused by a water leak,” said Walter Derieuw, spokesman for the Brussels fire brigade.

Residents of the affected area were evacuated and a dozen of them were taken to a communal hall made available to them during the day. Traffic on Avenue du Diamant was closed by the police. The water leak was quickly repaired but the subsidence it caused undermined the stability of four buildings, numbers 15, 17, 19 and 21. The situation is expected to last several days.

“As a result of this subsidence, the stability of the foundations of three neighbouring houses has been threatened,” said Walter Derieuw. “Steps were also taken to look for possible gas leaks. Vivaqua and the municipal services are taking over the rest of the operation," he added.

Marc Weber, chief of staff of the acting mayor of Schaerbeek, Cécile Jodogne, explained that the stability problems are related to the fact that the soil is extremely sandy in this area. Repairs to the affected area are likely to continue on Monday but Weber admitted it may take some time before it is safe for the residents to return.

“Numbers 17 and 19 are very destabilised,” he said. “Once the hole is filled, it is hoped that the stability experts will allow the inhabitants of 15 and 21 to return home, but for 17 and 19, it is really hard to say. After what the buildings have been through, one of the things that needs to be replaced are the foundations.”

Written by Nick Amies