[QODLink]
Africa

Many trapped in S Africa mall collapse

Officials in city of Durban say safety regulations might have been flouted after building collapse leaves one dead.

Last updated: 20 Nov 2013 10:48
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Workers search rubble at the site in Tongaat [Crisis Medical Durban]

One person has died and up to 50 people are feared trapped after a partially-constructed shopping centre collapsed in Durban, South Africa.

The accident happened in Tongaat, near the eastern coastal city on Tuesday. Those reported trapped were working on the building at the time.

Witness Fiona Mooneal, who lives across a railway line from the construction site, was standing in her kitchen when the three-storey building collapsed as though it had been dynamited.

"It was like when you blow up a building, a bomb. That sound was terrible," she said. 

Police spokeswoman Mandy Govender said one person was confirmed dead and at least 26 people had been pulled from the rubble.

"Most of those still trapped inside the building were construction workers," said Govender.

It is not yet clear what caused the collapse though Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala indicated that safety regulations might have been flouted.

Law not followed 

"There are areas of the law that they did not following terms of building this infrastructure," Shabalala told broadcaster ECNA. "We were not aware that they were continuing building." 

Emergency paramedics at the scene used sniffer dogs and specialist equipment to find survivors under the vast broken plinth of concrete and mesh of reinforcing bars.

"In all my years as a paramedic I have never seen anything like this," said one rescue worker, running to the site carrying
oxygen canisters. Others used hydraulic jacks to lift the slabs and grinders to cut through the metal.

Dean MacPherson, of Crisis Medical Durban, told Al Jazeera that the roof collapsed, triggering four floors beneath to also collapse.

Chris Botha, a spokesman for emergency responders in the area, told the agency that the figure had not been confirmed. Firefighters were responding to the emergency.

If safety regulations were not followed the accident could hurt the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as it moves towards elections next year.

Durban and the surrounding area is home of President Jacob Zuma, as a result the region has enjoyed a construction boom in the last few years based on government investments.

The ANC is expected to win elections next year, although the vote is likely to taper with incidents such as the killing of 34 strikers at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine last year which has fuelled a sense that the ANC is neglecting Nelson Mandela's dream of a just society from the ashes of the apartheid.

398

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.