Safety concerns halt rescue efforts
Posted by Michael Scholtz on October 21 2008 08:11:26
Safety concerns on Friday halted renewed efforts to find a worker believed to be trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building in Roodepoort, Johannesburg.

"The rescue mission has been temporarily halted," said emergency services spokesperson Percy Morokane.

"We were hindered by safety concerns because there are cracks in part of the building that is still standing."

Search efforts would resume on Saturday morning.

The worker, identified by The Star newspaper as 23-year-old Artur Magaizane, was believed to be buried under the three-storey building which collapsed on Thursday morning. One worker was killed and 14 injured.

Safety experts, a disaster response team and structural engineers were going back to the drawing board to establish how best to proceed, Morokane said.

Magaizane's relatives were at the site and an emergency services chaplain was available to counsel them.

Earlier on Friday Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana alleged that the employer had been aware of cracks in the building. He said the workers had complained about this but their employer insisted they continue working, according to The Star.

The building started shaking on Wednesday. Inspectors were called and labourers were instructed to continue working after the site was declared safe.

The labour department issued to the construction company, Dunehill Investments, a notice to stop work on the site until the department had finished its investigation.

Efforts to speak to the employer failed because he referred them to his lawyers, Mdladlana told the newspaper, and information had to be gleaned from an injured worker. - Sapa