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Hanging Robots to Help Demolish Gutted Tower

Fri Feb 18,12:07 PM ET

Add to My Yahoo! Oddly Enough - Reuters

MADRID (Reuters) - Robots suspended from cranes will help demolish the skeleton of one of Madrid's tallest buildings destroyed by a weekend fire because the ruin is too dangerous to be handled by workers, city authorities said Friday.

Demolition of the 32-storey skyscraper in the heart of Madrid, which is poised above four underground train lines, a major road and a vast department store, still presents unknown difficulties.

An alternative proposal to blow up the building in a controlled demolition, after first filling the network of subterranean road tunnels below it with sand, had been rejected as too risky, the city hall said.

"We've ruled out a total collapse of the building, but not partial collapses," the city hall's head of building control, Emilio Garcia de Burgos, told a news conference.

The 106-meter (350 foot) high Windsor building, Madrid's eighth tallest tower, was reduced to a peeling, blackened ruin by the biggest blaze in the city's history last weekend.

It is now too unstable to send workers in so it will be demolished by cranes from the top down, with giant neoprene sheets in place to catch falling debris, Garcia de Burgos said.

"We have never had to work in these conditions before," he added.

Robots will be used to help cut up the sagging concrete and steel structure, he said, adding that demolition should be finished within 12 months.

The construction company in charge of carrying out the work, under city hall direction, described the job as unusual rather than plain difficult.

"It's unusual, emblematic because of its height, its location, the way it is embedded in the city and the lack of space around the building," said Julio Miquel, secretary general of the company, Ortiz Construcciones y Proyectos.

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