Fatal skywalks flimsy, report says

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Two 32-ton skywalks that collapsed at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel in July, killing 113 people, were barely built to support their own weight, according to a National Bureau of Standards investigation just completed.

The study found that the design of the walkways provided for a load tolerance less than that required by city building codes. A change during construction compounded the problem - doubling the load on the rods suspending the walkways and leaving the connection able to support only 27 percent of the load standard set by the city, a 349-page report said.

The bureau investigation did not assess responsibility for the errors. The report said ''neither the quality of workmanship nor the materials used in the walkway system played a significant role in initiating the collapse.''

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In looking for a probable cause, the researchers simulated collapses with skywalk mock-ups and subjected thousands of pounds of steel and concrete debris from the actual walkways to hundreds of tests. A bureau spokesman said it was the agency's most extensive investigation ever of a building failure. It was requested by Kansas City Mayor Richard Berkley, and cost taxpayers at least $400 ,000.

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