Death toll rises in Soweto building collapse

2014-06-26 21:31
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Another body was found in the collapsed building in Soweto on Thursday evening, bringing the death toll to four, Johannesburg emergency management services said.

Spokesperson Nana Radebe said a man's body was removed from the rubble and handed to police, while the bodies of three others were still under the rubble.

The building, an old power station behind the Orlando towers, collapsed on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, a man's arm was amputated before he could be rescued.

"The man was taken out after 03:00, and it was difficult for the trauma doctors to access him. So we had to gain access from under the site," Radebe said.

"His arm was amputated while he was still trapped because we could not move the building from his hand, as it could destabilise the area and cause a secondary collapse."

He was pinned to the ground by a beam on his hand. The rescue team had to remove metal, beams, and concrete to help him. He was taken to hospital in a stable but critical condition, she said.

Radebe said more specialised equipment, such as hydraulics, were brought to the scene to help the rescue technicians.

On Wednesday, Radebe said paramedics received a call from an injured man who claimed to have been part of a group allegedly trying to steal cables and metal from the building.

Gauteng Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Jacob Mamabolo visited the building site on Thursday and conveyed his condolences to the families of the people who were killed in the collapse.

Mamabolo said the provincial disaster management centre, which was under Cogta, and the Johannesburg EMS teams were being assisted by EMS teams from Ekurhuleni and West Rand District to rescue the people who were trapped under the rubble.

"The rescue teams are confident that they are very close and will report activities as and when they happen," he said in a statement.

He said the EMS teams were awaiting additional urban search and rescue equipment from the national disaster management centre to assist in verifying if there were more bodies trapped.

"We do not want to make speculations. We will first gather facts especially on the issue of what caused the collapse of the building and how going forward we can try to avoid such disasters," said Mamabolo.

- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  search and rescue
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