A Corradino building that collapsed on Saturday, killing one and injuring five others, was set to become a four-storey timber processing factory. 

The site inside the Corradino Industrial Estate was being expanded from its existing height of two storeys when the structure came crumbling down, in Malta’s worst building collapse in recent history. 

JeanPaul Sofia, 20, was found dead, buried beneath the rubble following a 14-hour search. Five others were rescued from the site and taken to hospital. Three of them were critically injured.  

Contractor Matthew Schembri, the director of construction at WhiteFrost Ltd, is listed as the applicant on planning permits for the project.  WhiteFrost specialises in refrigeration and ventilation but also offers turnkey development services. 

Architect Adriana Zammit is listed as the architect responsible for the project in PA paperwork.  

According to her LinkedIn profile, Zammit has worked at the Planning Authority as a planning officer, at the Environment and Resources Authority overseeing projects, and as a project architect with Infrastructure Malta. 

IM architects are not precluded from working on private sector projects. 

Times of Malta reached out to both Zammit and Schembri for comment, with the latter declining to comment at this stage.

The project was given the green light in June this year, when the PA approved a Development Notification Order (DN 275/22) to extend the existing structure, adding a third and fourth floor to it.  

The existing structure was approved by the PA in 2020 (DN 360/20).

A wide view of the collapse site. Photo: Jonathan BorgA wide view of the collapse site. Photo: Jonathan Borg

A DNO is a form of expedited planning permit often used for relatively minor projects. However, government rules exempt projects in industrial areas from requiring full planning permits, allowing development to proceed with a DNO. 

According to a fire safety report prepared for the 2022 DNO application, the finished structure would feature a basement level, a carpentry workshop at ground floor, offices on an intermediate level, display area at first floor and workshop on its second floor. 

The building’s collapse, which was caught on CCTV footage, triggered a major rescue operation that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning, when Sofia’s body was finally found. 

Magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia is leading an inquiry into the case. Other investigations are also running in parallel to that probe: the Occupational Health and Safety Authority and the Building and Construction Authority are also looking into the incident, as is the Kamra tal-Periti, Malta’s professional body of architects and civil engineers. 

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