Katowice

Pigeon Fair Disaster

more than a year ago
The name Katowice was flashed across the world on January 28, 2006 when the roof of an exhibition hall collapsed on people attending the 56th National Exhibition of Carrier Pigeons. Sixty-five were killed and over 170 injured. The disaster occurred after snow accumulated on the roof, causing it to buckle under the weight and onto the estimated 700 people gathered below. Rescue teams from across the region, including firemen and mine and mountain rescue units, were hampered by appalling weather conditions, battling to rescue survivors in temperatures of -17˚C. A second collapse followed 90mins later, and many of those trapped froze to death with the mangled metallic structure effectively refrigerating those underneath it. President Lech Kaczyński declared a period of national mourning and an inquest was immediately ordered to bring those responsible to justice. Prosecutors swooped on the offices of Expomedia, the majority shareholders of the MTK Katowice International Fair, and Kiwi chairman Bruce Robinson was one of three people arrested. The accused were charged with criminal negligence, the state claiming they were aware that the building was a hazard, were advised to remove the snow and failed to act. Further investigations revealed severe design faults in the structure to save costs, and three architects were also read their rights. Upon closing the investigation in June 2008, 12 people had been indicted, with the architects potentially facing 12 years in prison, and eight others facing 8 year sentences. Meanwhile a slew of other related lawsuits are being processed as well. Recently two bereaved families were compensated 250,000zł each, setting a precedent for the 240 suits still pending. In 2007 a monument commemorating the victims of the tragedy was unveiled on the site.

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