Ten held over wedding tragedy
JERUSALEM -- Nine people arrested in connection with the collapse of an Israeli wedding banquet hall in which 23 died have appeared in court.
The nine -- including the building's owners and contractors involved in its construction -- were ordered to be held for several more days on Saturday night, hours after rescue workers called off the search for survivors in Israel's worst ever civil disaster.
Associated Press reported that a tenth person, an engineer, had been arrested Sunday.
As well as the 23 dead, around 250 were injured when the crowded Jerusalem wedding reception hall collapsed Thursday night. About 100 remained in hospital Saturday -- more than a dozen of those were a serious condition.
The search for survivors ended Saturday, when police said all those who attended the wedding or worked in the building had been accounted for.
In court the judge ordered seven of the men to be held until Thursday and two others suspected of having tried to obstruct the investigation until Tuesday.
One of the men held was the inventor of "Pal-Kal," a lightweight construction method employed in the Versailles hall and many public buildings built in Israel in the 1980s, police said Saturday. The method, using metal plates and thinner layers of cement, was banned in 1996.
Also in custody are the four owners of the building, the contractor responsible for the original construction in 1986, the owner of a company that carried out renovations three months ago and an engineer.
Amateur video from the wedding captured the horrific scene as scores of dancing guests suddenly dropped through the floor.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has scheduled a special cabinet meeting to discuss the disaster in hope that similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.
Jerusalem's municipal engineer Uri Sheetrit said the city would examine all its public buildings to ensure they have been constructed properly.
"We will determine which buildings are up to standard and those that are not will be closed immediately," Sheetrit told Israel radio.
After carefully picking through the ruins for 42 hours, rescue crews held a memorial service at the site Saturday.
The head of the rescue team, Maj. Gen. Gabi Ofir, said that after speaking to police he was satisfied that there were no more people in the building and that the danger of failing debris was too great.
However, Jerusalem police later said a Palestinian worker remained unaccounted for and police chief Mickey Levy said police were also looking into the whereabouts of foreign workers in the building, including kitchen staff.
Engineers from the Technion, Israel's most prestigious technical university, toured the ruins, accompanied by police investigators, and removed cement samples for analysis.
The bride and groom, Assi and Keren Sror, were among the injured. Assi was treated and released after the disaster, but Keren suffered hip and chest injuries which may require surgery, doctors said.
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