Building collapse in South Africa: Relatives gather while dozens are still missing under the rubble

  • Written by Shingai Nyoka in George, South Africa and Ian Casey in London
  • BBC News

Comment on the photo, Delphine, Dion Savills’ son, is among those still trapped under the collapsed building

Dion Savles, his father, told the BBC that among those still trapped under the rubble after the collapse of a five-storey building in South Africa was Delphine Savles, who was on one of the lower floors when the building collapsed.

Rescuers tracked a dolphin’s location but are struggling to reach it.

The 29-year-old has been sending voice messages to his parents and girlfriend, telling them how much he loves them.

“I think my son will get out alive,” his father, Dion, said.

He has been camping nearby since Monday, hoping his son would get out. He oscillates between despair and hope.

“He’s a strong boy, and I think he’ll be saved tonight or soon.”

More than a day after the collapse of the residential building, rescuers are still searching for 41 people still missing in the southern coastal city of George.

So far, at least 34 people have been recovered from the rubble, and seven of them have been confirmed dead.

Survivors and loved ones of other trapped people are also still at the scene.

A man who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity recounted his escape. He was on the top floor when the building collapsed, but he suffered a minor injury to his hand. His friend is missing.

Image source, Getty Images

The cause of the collapse, which occurred while the building was under construction, is being investigated.

The rescue effort includes 200 people with sniffer dogs, heavy lifting equipment and searches to remove concrete blocks and debris by hand.

It is a long and slow process and the entire rescue is expected to take between four and five days.

“They will then begin the process of lifting the different floors apart,” said Colin Diner, director of disaster management.

He added: “There is a possibility that people are still alive.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his thoughts were with the families of the people who died in the accident and called for an investigation to “bring closure to society and prevent a recurrence of this disaster.”

The city’s mayor, Ald van Wyk, sent his condolences to the families “and all those affected who are still waiting for word from their loved ones.”

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