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Buried victim rescued after five days

Rescuers in South Africa managed to rescue a missing worker alive after a shell collapsed. The man had been lying under the rubble for 116 hours when a search dog noticed him in the morning.

Five days after a five-story shell collapsed in South Africa, killing at least 13 people, a survivor has been rescued from the rubble. Rescuers and onlookers cheered and clapped as the man was freed from the collapsed structure after 116 hours in the southern city of George.

“We all wanted a miracle and now that miracle has happened,” said Alan Winde, the premier of the Western Cape province in the south of the country. The successful rescue operation shows that one should never give up hope.

There are still 39 workers believed to be among the approximately 3,000 tons of concrete chunks, rubble and steel struts.

The shell collapsed within seconds

The man was taken to a hospital. Authorities did not say how serious his injuries were. The 33-year-old was working as a tiler on the construction site when the shell suddenly collapsed within a few seconds last Monday.

He made his presence known when the helpers were able to work their way close to him. In the morning, a search dog became aware of the buried victim. “He made it clear to us that he had weight on his legs, and that makes us very worried after such a long time,” explained operations manager Colin Deiner.

3,000 tons of concrete chunks and rubble

The building collapsed on Monday afternoon when a total of 81 construction workers were there. Since then, the rescue workers have been in a race against time. There are still 39 workers believed to be among the approximately 3,000 tons of concrete chunks, rubble and steel struts. More than 20 rescued people are being treated in the hospital and are said to be in critical condition.

Some of the missing people reported from the rubble via cell phone after the collapse. Other victims were able to draw attention to themselves by hitting the concrete or shouting. During the rescue work, the collapsed floors should be removed layer by layer.

“National Catastrophe”

South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla described the building collapse as a “national disaster” after visiting the scene of the accident. Experts from the police, the Ministry of Labor and the Western Cape Provincial Government are investigating why the shell collapsed.

With information from Stephan Ueberbach, ARD Studio Johannesburg

Stephan Ueberbach, tagesschau, May 11, 2024 7:00 p.m

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