S.Africa building collapse death toll climbs to 26Mon, 13 May 2024 11:08:25 GMT

The death toll from the collapse of a building in South Africa has risen to 26, with another 26 people still missing, authorities said Monday, a week after the structure came crashing down.Six bodies were recovered during the night and the morning at the site in the southern city of George, city officials said.Rescue teams have worked tirelessly since the five-storey apartment block, which was under construction, suddenly collapsed last Monday.Eighty-one people, mostly construction workers, were at the site at the time.Twenty-nine people have been rescued so far.They include a man who was pulled out on Saturday after 116 hours under the rubble. “It is a miracle that we have all been hoping for,” Western Cape provincial premier Alan Winde said on X, formerly Twitter.Search teams have vowed to comb every cavity among the wrecked building, but the chances of survival are fading.”Rescue and recovery efforts continue into a week to this day after the incident took place,” the George municipality said. One minute’s silence will be held at 2:09 pm (1209 GMT) — the exact time the building collapsed seven days ago — “to honour the lives lost,” it added.Authorities said they were implementing a plan to “expedite the identification of the deceased” and requested relatives to come forward.”We are experiencing difficulties in obtaining accurate names of individuals missing or deceased,” they said. Some families have expressed frustration over the pace of the identification process.The municipality also called for psychologists fluent in Chewa, Portuguese and Shona — languages spoken in neighbouring Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe — to assist with counselling.Previously, authorities declined to comment on speculation about whether most of the crew were foreign nationals.South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised nation, has long attracted migrants, who often come in search of employment without the correct papers.  The reason for the collapse of the building, which was to include 42 apartments and had received planning permission, has not been established and an inquiry is under way.