Operation Blata L-Bajda



The white rocks holiday complex is a booming tourism enterprise, completely refurbished in 2006, after years of neglect; the site has been returned to its former splendor and improved upon with new methods of construction. Thanks to the new management the complex has become successful by embracing the change brought about by low fare airlines and offers cheap weekend breaks to families and couples, locally and abroad. The entire complex consists of 30 hotel rooms and 50 self catering apartments and due to an aggressive marketing campaign the complex boasts a minimum of 65% occupancy all year round.

During the refurbishment, a new way of construction was introduced and experimented upon. Concrete slabs were pre-cast off site and then simply added on to the existing construction resulting in a new, modern looking complex with minimum refurbish time. The hotel complex has also upgraded the IT system and has a completely automated room closure and can produce in real time the list of guests located in the complex. The new management intends to invest in the IT system even more and in the coming year a new alternative data centre, located off site will be constructed. Thus should an event occur on the primary data center, the system will automatically switch on to the secondary data center with minimal disruptions to the hotel IT system.

The site has also been upgraded with a new Olympic size swimming pool and 2 new tennis courts. In order to minimize construction time for the swimming pool, a new cutting edge machinery which embeds plastic explosives was used. Thus tonnes of rock were cut off and removed from the site in five working days instead of other traditional methods which would have taken months.

On Friday 9th January 2009 at 13.35 an earthquake Ritcher scale 5.1 hit the Maltese archipelago. The duration of this earthquake was calculated to be 7.5 seconds and its epicenter was confirmed to be 10km WNW of Valetta. Damages were reported throughout the island, and emergency services were dispatched to locations asking for assistance. From the prevailing information it seems that though the island was severely hit most structures resisted the vibrations caused by the earthquake, however information is still trickling in since communications were practically wiped out and have not yet been restored. Several fires have occurred in industrial estates and the Malta International Freeport.

The same cannot be said for the White Rocks holiday complex. It turns out that the explosives used to dig out the swimming pool and the tennis courts have destabilized the rock foundation and thus amplified the earthquakes effect. This has in turn displaced the new concrete structures which crashed onto the original structure. The worst hit area was the reception lobby and the administration building housing the data center.

A wounded french tourist Mr L Leport, who was on holiday in the complex, managed to trek to St Julian's police station and alerted the authorities on the situation in the complex. Though there were several communication problems, since he only spoke his native tongue, it is understood that prior to the earthquake most of the patrons were out of the complex on guided tours, but there was a small lunch function in the main restaurant. If understood correctly he mentioned no more than 50 guests. Unfortunately Mr. L. Leport has since succumbed to the injuries sustained and no further information is available.

Due to the damage suffered by the communications systems and the overflow of calls to the emergency services, information on this sites precarious situation has not reached the Emergency Co-ordination Centre until hours later.

CPD director has decided to send in the entire SPIDER team aided by a medical team, with minimum equipment and no promise of backup for several hours since all emergency services including the army are employed in a nationwide disaster.