Five dead and more than 50 trapped under rubble after building collapses in South Africa

About 75 construction workers were at the site at that time of the incident

An under-construction building in South Africa's coastal city of George collapsed on May 6, killing five and trapping more than 50 workers under the rubble. Reuters
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A multistorey apartment building under construction collapsed on Monday in South Africa, killing five construction workers and leaving 49 people trapped under the rubble.

Authorities said 21 people were rescued from the site and sent to hospitals in the municipality of George city, about 400km east of Cape Town.

At least 11 of them are severely injured.

“Seventy-five members of construction crew have been confirmed on-site at that time of the incident,” the head of the provincial Western Cape government, Alan Winde said.

The incident happened just after 2pm local time. Rescue teams worked through the night searching for dozens of construction workers buried under the rubble.

More than 100 emergency personnel arrived at the site using sniffer dogs to find survivors.

Cranes and other heavy lifting equipment were sent to help with the rescue effort and more emergency responders were being brought in from nearby towns and cities.

Rescue workers on site were trying to recall where they heard calls from people, George executive mayor Leon van Wyk told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Rescuers made contact with 11 workers trapped in the rubble and were hopeful of bringing them out, said Colin Deiner, the chief director of the provincial Western Cape Disaster Management and Fire and Rescue Services.

He said some of them were talking to rescuers but were unable to move because they had limbs trapped under concrete.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa offered his “deep condolences to the relatives and friends” of the victims and said his thoughts were with the families of the dead and missing.

He called for an investigation, saying it must “bring closure to the community and prevent a repeat of this disaster”.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident and a case has been opened by the police.

Photos shared by the city council showed a flattened construction site with multiple rescue services present.

“Our thoughts are with the families and all those affected who continue to wait on word of their loved ones,” Mr van Wyk said.

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

“All the necessary support has been offered to emergency personnel to expedite their response,” Mr Winde said. “At the moment, officials are focused on saving lives. This is our top priority at this stage.”

The national government was being briefed on the rescue operation.

Updated: May 07, 2024, 9:12 AM