Date: May 24, 2001
Casualties: 23 People
The Versailles wedding hall was a structure located in southeast Jerusalem. On the night of May 24, 2001, Keren and Asaf Dror were celebrating their wedding reception at the location. Hundreds of friends and relatives were in attendance and the party was in full swing when a large portion of the third floor collapsed. As a result of the failure, 23 people fell to their death and 380 were injured. The event is the worst civil disaster in the history of Israel. It shocked the public, not only because of the number of fatalities, but because the collapse was documented on a camcorder. The video was broadcast on local and international television.
It is an absolutely shocking piece of tape that clearly shows the collapse. It is amazing how only one portion of the floor gives way, creating a large hole. During the rescue effort, three people were recovered alive in the rubble. An investigation into the disaster concluded that it was not caused by a terrorist attack. This was further corroborated by witnesses who reported seeing a dangerous sag in the wedding floor a short time before the failure. The sag is clearly visible in the video. An initial inquiry blamed the collapse on the Pal-Kal method of constructing light-weight, coffered concrete floor systems.
The side of the building that failed was designed to be a two story structure. Late in the construction process, it was decided that both sides of the building should be equal heights, and a third story was added to the shorter end. The engineer, Eli Ron, inventor of the Pal-Kal method of construction, was arrested and subsequently indicted, in August 2002, on the charge of manslaughter. Following the disaster, the Versailles Law was passed by the Parliament of Israel. It established a special committee responsible for treating the people injured in the event. In October 2004, the three owners of the Versailles wedding hall were convicted of causing human death and damage by negligence.