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At least 11 people still alive under building collapse rubble, South African officials say

Rescue teams searching for dozens of construction workers missing after an apartment complex collapsed in South Africa brought out more survivors Tuesday, as they entered a second night of desperate work to find anyone alive in the wreckage.

Top official says 'absolute maximum time' will be devoted to rescue efforts as 37 are unaccounted for

South African crews rescue survivors from collapsed building site

8 hours ago

Duration 0:56

Rescuers on Tuesday used cranes, drills and their bare hands to try to reach dozens of people still trapped at the site of a multi-storey building collapse that killed at least six people. People clapped and cheered as rescue workers pulled a person out alive from among the debris, then another one.

Rescue teams searching for dozens of construction workers missing after an apartment complex collapsed in South Africa brought out more survivors Tuesday, as they entered a second night of desperate work to find anyone alive in the wreckage.

At least seven people have been confirmed dead.

Authorities said 26 workers had now been rescued from the site where the five-storey building collapsed Monday while under construction in George, about 400 kilometres east of Cape Town on South Africa's south coast.

An additional 42 people are believed to be still buried in the debris of concrete and metal scaffolding.

Rescuers were hopeful of more people being found alive after saying earlier that they had made contact with at least 11 workers trapped in the rubble and were communicating with them.

It wasn't immediately clear how many of those had been rescued but five survivors were brought out on Tuesday, adding to the 21 found on Monday, according to a count provided by city authorities.

There were 75 construction workers on the site when the building collapsed.

From a distance, several workers wearing helmets and protective clothing are shown at a site filled with large and small pieces of concrete debris.

Rescuers erupted in applause as one of the survivors was brought to the surface.

They yelled at the man, "Stay with us!" as he was pulled out of a gap in the wreckage and put on a stretcher.

They then shouted to him, "You are outside now!"

Authorities haven't given updated details on the extent of the injuries, but said in the first few hours after the collapse that at least 11 of the rescued workers had severe injuries.

Medical help on scene for any rescued

Colin Deiner, head of the provincial Western Cape disaster management services, said the search-and-rescue operation would likely take at least three days.

He said it would take at least the rest of Tuesday to bring out all 11 of the survivors they had located, which included a group of four workers trapped in what was the basement of the building.

Some of those workers had limbs under concrete slabs and couldn't move, Deiner said.

"We are going to give it the absolute maximum time to see how many people we can rescue," Deiner said at a news conference.

"It is very, very difficult if you are working with concrete breakers and drillers close to people."

"Our big concern is entrapment for many hours, when a person's body parts are compressed. So, you need to get medical help to them. We got our medics in as soon as we possibly could."

An overhead view shows a plot of land with large pieces of concrete and metal debris, with an unspecified number of helmeted workers shown.

More than 100 emergency services and other personnel worked through the night, using sniffer dogs to try to locate workers.

Large cranes and other heavy lifting equipment were brought in to help with the rescue effort and tall spotlights were erected to allow search-and-rescue personnel to work in the dark.

Deiner said a critical part of the rescue operation came when they had ordered everyone to remain quiet and shut off machinery so they could listen for any survivors.

That's when they located some of them, he said.

"We were actually hearing people through the rubble," Deiner said.

Several local hospitals were making space in their trauma units in anticipation that more people might be brought out alive.

More than 50 emergency responders had also been brought in from other towns and cities to help, including a specialized team that deals with rescue operations in collapsed structures.

WATCH | South African rescuers search for missing, trapped people in building collapse:

Rescuers in South Africa painstakingly remove concrete and metal debris to find trapped workers

18 hours ago

Duration 0:23

Officials say dozens of construction workers are missing or trapped after multi-storey apartment structure collapsed in George, Western Cape province in South Africa.

Investigations into cause expected

Family and friends of the workers had gathered at the nearby municipal offices and were being supported by social workers, the George municipality said.

Authorities were starting investigations into what caused the tragedy, and a criminal case was opened by police, but there was no immediate information on why the building suddenly collapsed.

A woman with grey hair wearing glasses leans over and hugs a dark complected woman, who is seated and also wearing glasses.

CCTV footage from a nearby home showed the concrete structure and metal scaffolding collapsing at 2.09 p.m. local time on Monday, causing a plume of dust to rise over the neighbourhood. People came streaming out of other buildings after the collapse, with some of them screaming and shouting.

Alan Winde, the premier of the Western Cape province, said there would be investigations by both the provincial government and the police.

Authorities declined to give out any information on the construction company involved but said that under city law the private company's engineers were responsible for the safety of the building site until its completion, when it would be handed over to the city to check and clear.

The national government was being briefed on the rescue operation, Winde said. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement offering his condolences to families of the victims and also called for investigations into the cause of the collapse.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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