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South Africa: survivor found 5 days after building collapse

May 11, 2024

Officials have described the rescue as a "miracle." Dozens of people are still missing after the collapse of the apartment building.

Rescue workers and an excavator atop a pile of rubble in George, South Africa
Rescuers have used heavy machinery and even dug with their hands in a desperate attempt to locate survivorsImage: Jerome Delay/AP Photo/picture alliance

Rescuers in the city of George, east of Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday pulled a man from the rubble from a building 116 hours after it collapsed. 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde called the man's rescue, "the miracle that we have all been hoping for" in a statement on the social media platform X.

Officials say that 81 people were in the five-story building, which was under construction, when it collapsed for unknown reasons on Monday.

Of these, 13 have been confirmed dead, 29 were alive and a further 39 remain unaccounted for.

Rescuers have used heavy equipment, drills, jackhammers, saws and their bare hands in an ongoing attempt to locate survivors. 

Colin Diener, who is heading rescue operations, said, "When we went down to the side of the slab we had uncovered, we heard somebody inside and we stopped all the heavy operations."

The man, said Diener, "indicated to us that he's got weight on his legs, and we're very concerned about that after such a long period of time."

The survivor was rescued from the debris several hours after the incident and immediately taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

The rescue has brought new hope and renewed energy to the teams for continuing with the rescue and recovery operations, according to the George municipality.

Authorities have announced multiple investigations into the cause of the building collapse, including by police, the provincial government and the national department of labor.

js/lo (AFP, Reuters)