Amman building collapse: baby girl rescued as search for survivors goes on

Three arrested as suspicion grows that removal of retaining wall brought down all four storeys

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Rescue workers were on Thursday continuing to dig into a collapsed building in Amman for a third day after nine bodies were pulled from the rubble.

At least 14 people were injured in the collapse, the deadliest such incident in Jordan in decades. One of them was a baby girl, Malak, aged only 5 months, who was extracted from the wreckage on Wednesday and taken to Luzmilla, a private hospital near the collapsed building in the middle-class neighbourhood of Al Weibdeh.

“Malak has been removed from intensive care, her condition is wonderful,” the doctor treating her told The National.

Malak and her family did not live in the building.

Her mother told state TV that she had left Malak with a 23-year old female friend who lives in an apartment on the ground floor of the collapsed building.

Her friend has her own baby who was also in the apartment at the time the building came down. The two remain unaccounted for, Malak’s mother said.

Civil Defence said search and rescue operations were continuing, with more people possibly still under the rubble.

"Rescue crews are still digging but the pace has slowed," said a resident of an adjacent building.

Government engineers suspect that a retaining wall on the ground floor was dismantled, bringing down the four-storeys.

Jordan has robust construction codes but enforcement has been widely regarded as lax since the 1990s, when an influx of expatriate money sparked a building boom.

The building that collapsed is thought to be at least 50 years old.

Three people have been arrested in connection with a continuing investigation into the collapse, authorities said. They said they were heirs to the building's owner, who died years ago. Two of the men were identified as a contractor and a technician.

Neighbours said the building collapsed while expansion work involving the removal of a wall was being carried out in an apartment on the ground floor.

Two state engineers, who were part of a team visiting the site on Wednesday, said on condition of anonymity that the sandwich-like way the building fell was consistent with a retaining wall removal. They stressed, however, that the official investigation had only started.

Updated: September 15, 2022, 1:45 PM