Two workers dead and more than 50 trapped when a building under construction collapses in South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa –

A multi-story apartment building under construction collapsed Monday in a South African coastal city, killing two construction workers and leaving 53 trapped under the rubble, authorities said.

Another 20 workers were rescued from the rubble of the building and were being treated for their injuries at several hospitals, city authorities said.

The building collapse occurred shortly after 2 p.m. in the town of George, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Cape Town on South Africa’s southern coast.

Hours later, more than 100 emergency personnel were on the scene and would likely work through the night, using sniffer dogs to try to locate survivors, some of whom were feared buried under huge slabs of concrete.

Cranes and other heavy lifting equipment were sent to assist in rescue efforts, George Municipality said, while more emergency personnel were brought in from nearby towns and cities. They were expected to arrive at the scene around midnight.

There were 75 workers at the construction site when it collapsed, and family and friends were gathered at nearby municipal offices waiting for news, the municipality said.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the tragedy and police opened a case, but there was no immediate information about why the building suddenly collapsed.

Marco Ferreira, local representative of the non-governmental organization Gift of the Givers, was on site with a team to offer support and food and drink to rescuers. Gift of the Givers is a charity that often helps during disasters in South Africa. It also provided three sniffer and handler dogs to assist in the search, Ferreira said.

“The situation at the moment is still in the rescue stages,” Ferreira told news channel eNCA TV. “We don’t know, it will probably go on for days. There are some cranes there to help lift some concrete. But it’s not a pretty sight.”

Authorities did not immediately provide details about the injuries suffered by the workers who were taken to hospitals, but South African media reported that several of them had suffered serious injuries. The two workers who died were pronounced dead after being admitted to hospitals, George Township said.

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

The Western Cape provincial government said it was closely monitoring the situation and had sent resources to assist with the emergency response.

“All necessary support has been offered to emergency personnel to expedite their response. At the moment, officials are focused on saving lives. This is our top priority at this stage,” Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said. head of the provincial government. he said in a statement.

Winde said the national government was being briefed on the rescue operation.


Associated Press writer Mogomotsi Magome in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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