S.Africa rescuers set hopes on collapsed building’s basementThu, 09 May 2024 14:42:47 GMT

Rescuers in South Africa said Thursday there was a glimmer of hope that more survivors could be found in the basement of a collapsed building days after it came crashing down, killing eight people. Dozens of people were still unaccounted for, more than 72 hours after rescue services started combing through the debris in the southern city of George.”The basement is largely intact… we do think that there could be people alive there,” Colin Deiner, head of rescue operations, told SABC national broadcaster. “We will possibly consider staying in rescue mode for another little while,” he added.City officials have previously said that operations were soon to enter the “body recovering” phase, as chances of surviving drop dramatically after three days.Earlier on Thursday, authorities revised the number of workers missing under the rubble up to 44 from 39. This follows “intensive discussions” with contractors and “scrutinisation of the safety records”, which revealed a crew of 81 people was on site when the incident happened, the George municipality said.The reasons for the collapse, which occurred at around 2:00 pm local time (1200 GMT) on Monday, are still unknown.Construction plans for a 42-unit apartment block had been approved by the city in July. Police said they had been unable to reach the owner of the premises despite visiting the person’s business address.”We then proceeded to issue a subpoena and up until today there has been no response,” said provincial chief inspector David Esau.Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi declined to comment on speculation about whether most of the crew were foreign nationals.”It’s not about foreign nationals… it is about human beings,” he told journalists as he visited the site. The government was however to get in touch with the diplomatic missions of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi regarding the incident, he added. It had also “raised concerns” about employers hiring “desperate” foreigners as “cheap labour”.Twenty-nine workers have so far been pulled out of the rubble alive. Six have life-threatening injuries, and 16 are in critical condition.George is run by the Democratic Alliance, the leading opposition party, which also controls the Western Cape province.