2nd body found after trench collapse

2011-02-25 07:44
Johannesburg - After seven hours of searching, the second of two bodies was retrieved from a six-metre deep trench which collapsed on top of two men in Modderfontein on Thursday, Johannesburg emergency services said.

"The recovery operation has been successful. We have recovered the bodies of the two men," spokesperson Percy Morokane said.

"The families of the two men are on the scene. It is a very sad moment for them," he said.

Three men, a quantity surveyor, a pipe layer and an assistant safety officer, were inside the trench digging when the walls caved in on Thursday afternoon.

"The pipe layer managed to run for safety but the other two couldn't escape. They have been trapped since 14:00," Morokane said.

The men had been digging for sewage pipes at Thornhill Estate since Monday. The first body was recovered earlier on Thursday night.

Paramedics were on the scene to check the men's vitals but there were none and they were pronounced dead.


Earlier in the day Morokane said it was difficult to say whether the men would have survived.

"They are underneath tons and tons of soil so it's difficult to say how they are doing. We can't say yet if they are alive or dead," Morokane said.

There were about 20 search and rescue specialists and road and trench excavators on the scene.

The trench needed to be made bigger as it was only four metres wide. Once it had been broken down forming rapid access areas rescue workers would start digging manually, Morokane said.

"We have to secure the area. We are dealing with damp soil which in itself is very dangerous and we don't want to have a situation where we have more casualties.

"I have spoken to specialists on the scene who say it will take about six hours to reach the men," he said in the afternoon.

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