The rear of Marlborough Terrace was “more like a back street in Bangladesh” following a landslide which collapsed a 50 foot wall this week.
Tuesday’s night’s severe weather conditions including torrential rainfall led to the wall’s collapse, crushing three vehicles, a garage and an oil tank at around 3am on Wednesday.
Fears were also growing yesterday that oil may have contaminated grounds beneath local properties, raising concerns that earth may have to be excavated from the sites.
Home heating oil spilled into the home of pensioner Monica Wilson who only recently had the tank filled with 1,000 litres.
Despite the immediate health implications of the spilled oil, Monica is now “very worried” about being left without heating over the expected chilly Christmas period. Her’s son’s Toyota Hiace van, which contained valuable equipment, was also smothered by the falling debris. “I heard an almighty bang and a neighbour came running to the door to say there’s a van buried outside. My garage has also been badly damaged. It’s more like a back street in Bangladesh than Derry,” he said.
Father of two Jimmy Mallon lost his livelihood when his Toyota Avensis taxi was completely covered in the heavy rubble. “This is devastating,” he said while surveying the scene. “That’s me off the road now with Christmas coming up and I have two young children, aged three years and seven months.”
Neighbour Charlie Mullan’s car was extensively damaged in the collapse. “It was parked tight against the oil tank belonging to Mrs Wilson but it has been pushed forward about 20 feet by the pressure of the wall falling.”
The residents estimate that the wall could be around 100 years old but no agency has yet claimed responsibility for the structure.
Sinn Féin councillor Colly Kelly said that despite the loss of property, it was fortunate that no one was hurt in the freak incident. “When you see the scale of the damage it is very fortunate that no one was injured. As well as the physical damage, this incident has also created other problems. An elderly woman has been left without heating. I, along with other councillors, have been in contact with the city solicitor and the Building Control department at Derry City Council to have this lady’s heat repaired as soon as possible. A local oil company is also trying to help,” he added.
The Marlborough Terrace landslide wasn’t the only one to cause devastation in the city. On Wednesday afternoon another dated wall gave way at the rear of Harding Street, sparking panic among residents for the future safety of their properties. Part of the 35 foot high structure fell away at the rear of a home in the street at around 2pm on Wednesday. Resident Paula Carlin, who was left with a sheer drop at the end of her back porch, was very badly shaken by the incident.
Yesterday the pensioner and mother of seven was counting the cost of the devastation as she tried to establish who would pay for the damage caused to her property.
She also contemplated the “worrying prospect” of spending Christmas without central heating as her oil tank, which was situated close to the collapsed wall, was drained as a precaution yesterday afternoon.