South Africa: 7 dead and around forty workers trapped under a building

South Africa: 7 dead and around forty workers trapped under a building

On Tuesday, rescue teams intensified their efforts to find numerous workers trapped under the slopes of a building under construction which collapsed the day before in George, on the South African coast.

According to the authorities, this collapse caused the death of seven people. In the evening, 33 people were extracted from the rubble, seven of whom died from their injuries, while the others were mainly hospitalized.

Rescuers were still searching for 42 workers, 11 of whom had been in contact during the day. “They have now been under decline for over 24 hours, that is a considerable amount of time”said Alan Winde, head of the provincial government, at a press conference in the afternoon, emphasizing that the international protocol for such rescue operations provided for a duration of three days.

“We are in contact with eleven people”indicated Colin Deiner, head of rescue operations, specifying that “four of them are trapped in a basement”. “We asked them to regularly turn off their phones to save battery power”, added Mr. Winde. Those who were able to signal their presence, via cellphone, or by making noise, shouting or tapping, were spotted at three priority sites, according to Deiner, although the exact number of people at each site remains unknown . This is an operation “long and complex”involving a “careful research with dogs”he stressed.

He also said that rescuers took 17 hours to extract one of the trapped people after locating him. The five-story building, which included an underground parking lot, collapsed for reasons still undetermined. It was planned to house 42 apartments, from studios to three-room apartments, and its plans were validated by the town hall in July 2023.

A police investigation has been opened and an operational post is coordinating the efforts of the various teams on site, locations in several surrounding towns and even Cape Town, more than 400 km west of the scene of the incident.