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Tragedy in South Africa: Building Collapse Leaves 5 Dead, 49 Trapped

Authorities say 21 workers have been pulled from the rubble, with at least 11 of them suffering severe injuries

A devastating building collapse in the coastal city of George, South Africa, has left five construction workers dead and 49 others trapped under the rubble. The multi-story apartment complex, which was under construction, came crashing down on Monday afternoon, leaving a trail of destruction and chaos in its wake.

Emergency workers on the scene of a collapsed building in George, South Africa, on May 7, 2024. Five workers have been killed with 49 still trapped after the building under construction collapsed on Monday.

Rescue teams have been working tirelessly through the night, searching for survivors amidst the mangled wreckage. So far, 21 workers have been rescued and taken to various hospitals, with at least 11 suffering severe injuries. The search operation is ongoing, with over 100 emergency personnel and responders on the scene, including sniffer dogs and heavy lifting equipment.

Colin Deiner, the chief director of the provincial Western Cape Disaster Management and Fire and Rescue Services, described the rescue effort as “very tough” and likened finding trapped workers to “searching for a needle in a haystack.” Deiner said rescuers had made contact with 11 workers trapped in the rubble but were struggling to reach them due to the extensive concrete debris.

The cause of the collapse is still unknown, and authorities have opened a case to investigate the tragedy. CCTV footage showed the building come crashing down at 2.09 pm on Monday, causing a massive dust plume to rise over the neighborhood.

Family and friends of the workers gathered at the nearby municipal offices, anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones. George Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk expressed his condolences, saying, “Our thoughts are with the families and all those affected who continue to wait on word of their loved ones.”

The provincial Western Cape government has sent additional resources to assist in the rescue operation, with Premier Alan Winde stating, “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.”

The national government is being briefed on the rescue operation, which is expected to continue for days. The Gift of the Givers, a local charity, is also providing support and resources to the rescuers and affected families.

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