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2 workers confirmed dead, 53 still trapped after South Africa building collapse

Two construction workers are now confirmed dead and 53 others trapped following the collapse of a multi-story apartment building in George, South Africa.

A multi-story apartment building under construction collapsed Monday in a coastal city in South Africa, killing two construction workers and leaving 53 trapped under the rubble, authorities said.

An additional 20 workers were pulled from the mangled wreckage of the building and were being treated for injuries at various hospitals, city authorities said.

The building collapse happened just after 2 p.m. in the city of George, about 250 miles east of Cape Town on South Africa’s south coast.


Hours later, more than 100 emergency personnel were at the site and were likely to work through the night, using sniffer dogs to try and locate survivors, some of whom were feared buried under huge slabs of concrete.

Cranes and other heavy lifting equipment were being sent to help with the rescue effort, the George municipality said, while more emergency responders were being brought in from nearby towns and cities. They were expected to reach the site at about midnight.

There were 75 workers at the building site when it collapsed, and family and friends were gathered at the nearby municipal offices waiting for news, the municipality said.

Authorities were investigating what caused the tragedy and a case was opened by police, but there was no immediate information on why the building suddenly collapsed.

Marco Ferreira, a local representative of the Gift of the Givers non-governmental organization, was at the site with a team to offer support and food and drink to the rescuers. Gift of the Givers is a charity that often helps during disasters in South Africa. It had also provided three sniffer dogs and handlers to help with the search, Ferreira said.

"The situation at this stage is still very much in the rescue stages," Ferreira told the eNCA TV news channel. "We don’t know, it’s probably going to carry on for days. There are some cranes there to help lift some concrete. But it’s not a pretty sight."

Authorities didn't immediately provide details of the injuries sustained by the workers who were taken to hospitals, but South African media reported that a number of them had suffered serious injuries. The two workers who died were declared dead after being admitted to hospitals, the George municipality said.

"Our thoughts are with the families and all those affected who continue to wait on word of their loved ones," George Executive Mayor Leon 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. At the moment, officials are focused on saving lives. This is our top priority at this stage," Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, the head of the provincial government, said in a statement.

The national government was being briefed on the rescue operation, Winde said.

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