A plane carrying 26 South Africans injured in a building collapse in Nigeria arrived at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria on Monday morning.
The C130 SA Air Force plane touched down at 10.42am. It was initially supposed to arrive at 7am, but was delayed. Three children were among the injured, including an 18-month-old baby and a two-year-old toddler who lost both their parents in the collapse that killed 84 South Africans, as well as a six-year-old.
Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said: “These kids, we are expecting that the social development [department] will assist in making sure that they link them up with their relatives,” she told reporters outside the base. “Yes, there is a process to make sure that they are taken to their families.”
Williams said the country’s military health service had sent a mass casualty aero-medical evacuation team to Lagos. “Among them is an orthopaedic surgeon, Colonel Theo le Roux, an internationally recognised trauma surgeon; four aero-medical officers, as well as nursing officers who have specialised in aviation medicine, and eight military paramedics,” she said.
The team would evacuate patients and helped the critically wounded on their flight back to South Africa. “Extra measures were taken to provide care and comfort to injured children on board,” said Williams.
Survivors taken to hospital
Military personnel swiftly attended to the injured South Africans once they arrived back in the country.
Shortly after the plane landed at the base in Pretoria, an initial batch of the patients was whisked off to hospital. Most of the patients were carried out of the plane on stretchers and taken to ambulances parked nearby.
A woman in a red dress, supported by two soldiers, limped to one of the ambulances. Others could also walk to the ambulances with assistance. A convoy of Tshwane metro police officers on motorbikes and South African Police Service vehicles escorted the first two ambulances from the military base shortly after 11am. – Sapa