South Africa

PHOTO ESSAY

Frantic search for dozens missing in George building collapse

Frantic search for dozens missing in George building collapse
Rescuers carry a person on a stretcher as they race to save construction workers trapped under a building that collapsed in George. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

While rescue teams could communicate with 11 people buried in the wreckage, families gathered waiting for news of their loved ones were in tears, fearing the worst.

Rescuers were on Tuesday using cranes, drills and their bare hands to try to reach dozens of people trapped when a multistorey building under construction in George collapsed on Monday, killing at least six people.

george building collapse

A family member of one of the trapped construction workers in George. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

george building collapse

Rescuers rush a person to medical assistance as they race to save construction workers trapped under the building that collapsed. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

george building collapse

A woman in tears at a prayer service near the site of the building that collapsed. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

george building collapse

Family members of a construction worker are overcome by emotion near the disaster site. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

Of the 75 workers who had been on the construction site, 48 remained unaccounted for on Tuesday. Authorities have made no comment about what caused it to collapse.

While the rescue teams could communicate with 11 people buried in the wreckage, families gathered waiting for news of their loved ones were in tears, fearing the worst.

“We treat everybody as still alive,” Colin Deiner, the Western Cape’s chief of disaster management, told a press conference.

george building collapse

A drone view of the disaster scene. (Photo: Reuters / Shafiek Tassiem

A rescuer takes a service dog to the site of the disaster. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

george building collapse

Rescuers celebrate after saving a construction worker. (Photo: Reuters / Esa Alexander)

There have been moments of hope. Onlookers clapped and cheered as rescue workers pulled a person out alive from among broken concrete slabs and twisted steel reinforcements. They made contact with other survivors as they scoured the site with sniffer dogs.

“We have one area where four people are in a basement and we’ve been communicating with them, so that’s quite a big operation that’s taking most of the day to get them out,” Deiner said. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an investigation into the disaster.

Liatel Developments, the contracted builder of the structure, said it was trying to assist those at the site of the collapsed five-storey residential building.

“The investigations to follow obviously will reveal what has transpired and what has happened, but at this point in time it’s just saving as many people as we possibly can,” company director Theuns Kruger said. DM

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