/ 7 May 2024

Six people die in George building collapse, 48 trapped under rubble

George Building 3
Help: Rescue workers at the building collapse in Victoria Street in George remain silent to hear people trapped under the rubble. (Herman Pieters, Garden Route District Municipality)

Six people have been confirmed dead after a five-storey building under construction collapsed in George on the Garden Route.

The George municipality confirmed on Tuesday that 27 people had been removed from the rubble at 75 Victoria Street, leaving 48 people unaccounted for after the multi-storey building collapsed on Monday.

“The international standard is three days for a rescue operation; we are still identifying where people are trapped but we have been in communication with 11 people [under the rubble] and we will start a process of layering [to find them],” said Colin Deiner, the chief director for Western Cape provincial disaster services.

Although no information has been released about the construction company, most of the people trapped under the rubble are construction workers. 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said an investigation into the cause of the collapse was under way and George mayor Leon van Wyk said the site had been declared a criminal site, with the department of labour and the police on site to begin their investigations.

George Building 2
48 people were trapped under the rubble as a building collapsed in Geroge. (Herman Pieters, Garden Route District Municipality)

Winde added that independent engineers had been dispatched to investigate on behalf of the province. 

A man trapped under the rubble had called his wife for help, and has since been in contact with emergency personnel for evacuation, the disaster management team said. 

Disaster relief group Gift of the Givers said it had dispatched paramedics and aid staff to assist in recovery efforts. 

“We are on the scene offering any type of assistance we can. Currently we are providing support for the families of the victims and we have also set up a mobile soup kitchen,” said the organisation’s Mario Ferreira.

Winde said the necessary support had been offered to emergency personnel to expedite their response to the disaster. “At the moment, officials are focused on saving lives. This is our top priority at this stage.”