Death toll from South African building collapse rises to 33

By Thomson Reuters May 14, 2024 | 9:32 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The death toll from a building collapse in the South African city of George last week edged up to 33 on Tuesday, as rescuers continued to comb through the rubble with 19 people still unaccounted for more than a week after the incident.

Municipal officials said in a statement that only six of those who had been killed on the construction site had been identified so far, as authorities were struggling to get accurate names.

The last person to be rescued was pulled from the wreckage at the weekend, in what the Western Cape province’s premier described as “nothing short of a miracle” coming five days after the disaster.

The death toll stood at 32 on Monday. It has been steadily rising over the past week as more bodies have been retrieved.

It is not clear why the five-storey building in the city east of Cape Town collapsed on May 6. Investigations are under way.

Rescuers have used cranes, drills and their bare hands to try to reach those trapped.

Municipal officials said fluent speakers of the Chewa, Portuguese and Shona languages had been at the scene providing support. It is believed that migrants from other southern African countries such as Malawi and Zimbabwe were working on the construction site.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Alexander Winning and Alison Williams)