Hope dwindles in S.Africa two days after deadly building collapseWed, 08 May 2024 19:33:26 GMT

Rescuers raced against time to find more survivors amid the rubble of a deadly building collapse in South Africa on Wednesday, as search operations entered their third day.Dozens of people were still unaccounted for, more than 50 hours after rescue services started combing through the debris in the southern city of George.At least eight people were killed as an under-construction five-storey building collapsed on Monday for reasons that are yet to be determined.Rescue works briefly halted on Wednesday, as rescuers tried to find the source of a “sound or tapping” coming from under the shattered concrete slabs, said George’s mayor Leon Van Wyk. But hopes were quickly fading, as chances of surviving drop dramatically after 72 hours, he said. Operations were to enter the “body recovering” phase over the next day “as opposed to rescue”, Van Wyk told national broadcaster SABC. Twenty-nine of the 75 workers who were at the site when the incident occurred have been pulled out of the rubble alive. Six have life-threatening injuries, and 16 are in critical condition.The tally remained unchanged for most of the day on Wednesday, but in the evening authorities said they had retrieved another body bringing the death toll to eight. Thirty-eight people remained unaccounted for. “As the rescue effort is ongoing overnight, the emergency response team will now implement more substantive concrete breakers and additional trucks to remove building rubble from the site to free remaining entrapped patients,” the George municipality said in a statement.- Survivor’s account -Moses Malala, a foreman who survived the collapse, told AFP he heard a loud sound before the building came crashing down. Malala, who was working on the roof, said he felt his feet slipping as the building started to fold on one side. He watched his colleagues fall one by one. Many are still buried under the rubble. Malala was injured but escaped with his life and has been helping with rescue efforts. “I have pain too much… I can’t sleep,” he said. “Since Monday I was here on the site, we try to remove our relatives, our brothers and sisters.” More than 200 rescue workers and emergency service personnel divided into three teams searched separate areas on Wednesday. The building, which collapsed at around 2:00 pm on Monday, was meant to be a 42-unit apartment block.On Tuesday night, slight cheers were heard as a survivor was pulled out of the rubble and put onto a stretcher, an AFP correspondent saw. Another body was retrieved and wrapped in a blanket. – ‘Tragic’ -“This is tragic, this should never have happened,” said Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of disaster relief NGO Gift of the Givers. “You can’t blame the municipality, you can’t blame the government. You got to blame the people who were responsible for this construction.”Religious leaders and social workers were at the scene to assist and comfort distraught families.Men, women and children sang and prayed at the city hall as they awaited news of their loved ones. “I’m not feeling well because I did not get any information,” said Alfred Mbono, a relative of a missing worker.  “They just told us that we… need to wait. But we wait from…three days.”One pastor told AFP they were offering “spiritual support” to those affected by the tragedy.str-ger-zam-ub/spb