South Africa | Two dead, dozens of workers trapped in collapsed building

(Cape Town) At least two people died Monday in the collapse of a building under construction in George, on the South African coast, in which around fifty workers remain trapped, the municipality announced in the evening.

Two of the 22 people who were able to be taken out of the rubble and sent by ambulance to several hospitals in the region succumbed to their injuries, the municipality announced in the evening.

A police officer previously said a body had been found in the rubble.

“A work team of 75 people was on the site at the time of the collapse” of this building under construction, shortly after 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. Eastern time), declared the spokesperson for the municipality , Chantel Edwards, in a press release.

In addition to the people hospitalized and the two deaths, no information was yet available on the fifty workers still trapped under the rubble.

Mario Ferreira, spokesperson for the NGO Gift of the Givers, present at the scene of the accident, told AFP that rescuers had “communicated with some people under the rubble”.

The five-story building, including an underground parking lot, collapsed for reasons still undetermined.

Photos of the disaster show a flattened construction site around which numerous emergency services are positioned. The roof of the building remains visible, shaky, above a pile of rubble.

Security perimeter

Strong floodlights illuminate the site, which has been isolated by a security perimeter to protect local residents. An excavator truck was at work in the early evening.

Rescue operations were to continue throughout the night.

An operational post was set up to coordinate the various emergency services who went to the site, coming from several surrounding towns and even from the city of Cape Town, located more than 400 km west of the disaster.

In total, around a hundred rescuers were working at the scene of the accident.

Digging machines as well as sniffer dogs and their handlers have also taken to the road from Cape Town, we learned from several emergency services, and should be on site before midnight, according to the municipality.

Families and loved ones were invited to meet at the town hall, near the collapsed building, where they can be taken care of, in particular by social workers, the municipality said.

“Our thoughts are with the families and all those affected, who continue to wait for news of their loved ones,” Mayor Ald Van Wyk said in a statement.

George is a medium-sized town of around 160,000 inhabitants, located near the very touristy Garden Route, which runs along the south coast of the country.

Its town hall is run by the country’s leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which also governs the Western Cape province.


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