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Santiago Chile International Airport


The international terminal at the Santiago, Chile Airport (SCL) was inspected the morning of March 6, 2010, one week after the earthquake. The airport recently started accepting international flights, but the actual international terminal remained closed. Arriving passengers collected their checked-in baggage plane-side and proceeded through two temporary large tents housing immigration and customs services.

The international terminal, inaugurated in 1994, remained inoperable mainly as a result of nonstructural damage, although some structural damage was observed. A large portion of the suspended ceilings tiles, consisting of light-gauge metal grates at the upper level check-in area and mineral fiber tiles along walkways at the lower levels, fell from their supports (Figure 1). Clean up efforts underway made it difficult to estimate the percentage of tiles that were dislodged by the shaking. From the exterior soffit, the metallic tiles seemed to have remained in place to one side of a building expansion joint with many missing on the other side (Figure 2). In addition, it was reported that four or more HVAC units anchored from the concrete slab above fell through the suspended ceiling, including one at the third level (Figure 3). Reportedly, similar units fell at the second level and had already been removed. The units were supported by rods on spring hangers (Figure 4). Multiple pipe hangers failed and, in some cases, it seemed that the impacted pipes caused the sprinkler pipes to deform as shown (Figure 5) while most other sprinkler heads remained vertical. The sprinkler heads appeared damage around areas where the ceiling was damaged. The exterior and interior elevators were inoperable with housing damage observed in the exterior (Figure 6) and derailing in the interior (Figure7) with deformations evident in one of the rails. The counterweights were clamped and remained in place (Figure 8).

Other Observations:

Figure 1: A large portion of the suspended ceilings tiles, consisting of light-gauge metal grates at the upper level check-in area and mineral fiber tiles along walkways at the lower levels, fell from their supports.

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Figure 2: From the exterior soffit, the metallic tiles seemed to have remained in place to one side of a building expansion joint with many missing on the other side.

Figure 3: Four or more HVAC units anchored from the concrete slab above fell through the suspended ceiling, including one at the third level.

Figure 4: Similar units to the HVAC units reportedly fell at the second level and had already been removed. The units were supported by rods on spring hangers.

Figure 5: Multiple pipe hangers failed and, in some cases, it seemed that the impacted pipes caused the sprinkler pipes to deform as shown.

Figure 6: Housing damage observed in the exterior elevators.

Figure 7: Derailing in the interior elevators was observed, with deformations evident in one of the rails.

Figure 8: The counterweights were clamped and remained in place.


Report and photos submitted by Gilberto Mosqueda
Date: March 8, 2010