Shopping mall in Heerlen on the verge of collapse

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As if the troubled old mining town of Heerlen didn’t have enough problems, just before Sinterklaas, the biggest shopping time of the year in the Netherlands, shopping mall ‘t Loon (residential tower shown here) has been closed off, as it could collapse at any moment.

There is a parking garage under the mall, which has been propped up with big steel beams since October. A part of the garage was closed off for security reasons and the people living in the 12-story tower above were told that the cement pillars in the garage had cracks in them.

That’s the only information residents got until just a few days ago when the authorities announced that the mall was unsafe. A dozen shops have had to close and cars have been removed from the parking on the roof, while residents have been offered alternative accommodations in a motel.

Today, the shopping mall is empty and ‘potdicht’ (totally closed off). It could be months before they reopen, if it the entire thing doesn’t collapse before then, which actually could happen.

Experts and specialists are working on it, as it wasn’t just some construction error. Something underground is accelerating the sinking, but nobody knows what yet. And it all got worse overnight. As I write this, the city of Heerlen is holding a press conference and twittering about the situation.

(Link: limburger.nl, Photo of ‘t Loon shopping mall, Heerlen by unicron1bot, some rights reserved)

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