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Two-storey residential building breaks apart in Yakutsk, Russia’s permafrost capital

By Olga Gertcyk
25 June 2020

Families woke at 4am to the sound of cracking walls and fled the block in panic.

'The situation caught us completely off guard, none of us had time to pick up documents or to take any other of our belongings with us'. Picture: News Ykt

Cracks 10cm wide appeared inside three flats and on the outer walls of the residential block at 8/4 Avtodorozhnaya Street in the outskirts of Yakutsk.

This is the capital of Yakutia, the planet’s coldest inhabited region, and Yakutsk is the world’s largest city built on permafrost.

People ran out of the building in the early hours of 24 June.

‘It started at 4am from the sound of crackling. We realised that the building was breaking apart. Right now the building is continuing to crumble.

'The situation caught us completely off guard, none of us had time to pick up documents or to take any other of our belongings with us. People ran in such a rush they didn’t even have time to shut doors,' said a resident.

Gas, electricity and water were switched off by the emergency services as residents stood outside. 

Access to flats was banned due to the threat of further collapse.

Two-storey residential building breaks apart in Yakutsk, Russia’s permafrost capital 


Two-storey residential building breaks apart in Yakutsk, Russia’s permafrost capital 


Two-storey residential building breaks apart in Yakutsk, Russia’s permafrost capital 
Cracks 10cm wide appeared inside three flats and on the outer walls of the residential block at 8/4 Avtodorozhnaya Street in the outskirts of Yakutsk. Pictures: social media, News Ykt


The block was built in 1983 and was not considered part of the city's emergency housing.

At least one of the piles was broken, said emergency workers who checked the foundation of the building. 

There was also a pool of meltwater under the building which could have contributed to the destruction of the pile.

Cracks were found inside three flats of the corner entrance of the building, and along one of its bearing walls. 

Two-storey residential building breaks apart in Yakutsk, Russia’s permafrost capital 


Two-storey residential building breaks apart in Yakutsk, Russia’s permafrost capital 
At least one of the piles was broken, said emergency workers who checked the foundation of the building. Pictures: social media, IC Russia, News Ykt


Most of real estate in Yakutsk is built on deep - six metre or more - concrete piles sunk into the permafrost, to allow for the ground to cool down during winters and to ‘lock’ the structure firmly in the mixtures of ice, soil, clay and sand. 

Is this no longer enough?

As air and ground temperatures rise, making winters in Yakutia milder and shorter than even five years ago, ice begins to melt, soil and sand collapse - pulling down whatever was built on the layer of permafrost. 

Families woke at 4am to the sound of cracking walls and fled the block in panic. Video: social media


Comments (1)

I can not imagine what these people went through. It’s time to take climate change seriously.
Botak, Kazakhstan
25/06/2020 13:39
7
1
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