A little more than 15 years ago, on the 24th of May 2001, the dance floor with hundreds of people celebrating collapsed during the wedding of Keren and Assaf Dror at the Versailles wedding hall in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood. 23 people were killed and hundreds injured.
Last week’s image is of the memorial commemorating the victims which was built at the location where the hall once stood.
As published by the Commission of Inquiry set up by the government after the event, and as many of you may remember, a large part of the blame for this needless tragedy was the construction of the floor using the infamous “Pal-Kal” method. This method was invented by an Israeli engineer who allegedly allowed the construction of ceilings using a simplified method which obviously would be much cheaper than the conventional method. But beyond the use of this method, there were additional mistakes made mainly by the owners of the hall. For several weeks before the disaster the sinking of the floor was clearly visible and therefore it was decided to “straighten” the floor by adding more sand and pavement, which only made it worse by adding even more weight onto the weakened floor.
The IDF’s Home Front Command took the responsibility for rescue operations, which was the largest in Israeli civil history. About 40 hours of work of 500 soldiers brought to the extraction of 300 person.
In October 2004 the three owners of the Versailles Halls were convicted with involuntary manslaughter and negligence and were each sentenced to two and half years in prison.
The inventor of the Pal-Kal method, the engineer Eli Ron, was convicted in December 2006 of causing death by negligence, along with three other engineers. The engineers were sentenced to 22 months in prison and Ron to four years in prison.
The amazing thing is that until now the court has not yet ruled on the compensation for the victims of the disaster.