Other building collapses now focus of hearing

3:59 pm on 25 January 2012

A structural engineer has told the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission nothing could have prevented the partial collapse of a building that killed a man as he tried to escape.

The Commission is continuing to look at some of the smaller buildings which collapsed during the earthquake on 22 February, killing more than 40 people and on Wednesday the focus was on Joe's Garage Cafe, close to the CBD

Chef Greg Tobin died when he fled the 1930s two-storey building and was hit by falling masonry as the facade collapsed, despite earthquake strengthening having been carried out six years earlier.

The structural engineer who oversaw that work, John O'Loughlin, says the vertical movement generated by the earthquake was greater than anything engineers had anticipated.

He said this became clear when he inspected damage after the 22 February quake and saw cars flipped upside down.

"I thought, what idiots been tossing cars over but I realised, as a car sits on the side of the road and it's sitting at an angle and you get a thump from below, it flips like a pancake, and that's what happened to the brick walls."