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Durban - A construction worker was killed on Thursday when he and a colleague were buried after a sandbank collapsed at a church building site in Redhill.
The surviving worker was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to Addington Hospital.
Jay Kanniappen, divisional commander for the Durban North Fire Department, said when they were called out to the New Covenant Fellowship church, they were under the impression that there had been a structural collapse.
When they got there, they found a dead man, his injured colleague and a group of shocked construction workers.
“Apparently, the two men had been digging a trench that was 3m to 5m deep next to a sandbank when it suddenly collapsed and buried them,” he said.
Other workers had rushed to dig the two men out of the sand but it was moist and heavy, Kanniappen said.
“The workers had managed to pull both their colleagues out and moved them from the danger zone but, unfortunately one of them died as a result of the incident.”
Kanniappen said he had stopped all work at the site, where a parking lot and offices were being built.
All the necessary authorities had been called to the site, he said.
“The co-workers who were still in shock received a trauma debriefing at the site. It was a very sad moment,” he said.
The Daily News was not allowed on to the church premises but workers were seen sitting at the construction site, not far from their colleague’s body, which had been covered.
The woman who answered the phone at the church said the pastors were not taking calls as they were traumatised by what had happened.
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Labour spokesman, Nhlanhla Khumalo, said officials would be working to ascertain the cause of the accident.
“The department’s officials attended to the construction site and the (work) prohibition notice was served,” he said.
Khumalo said a comprehensive report on the incident would be released to all the affected parties.
George Watt, of Avalon Steel Projects, the contractor working on the project, said they would only be able to determine what had gone wrong once a team had visited the site today.
The Sunday Tribune reported this week that the construction of the parking lot had not been authorised and that a notice had been issued to the owner of the property requesting that plans be submitted to local authorities for consideration in terms of building regulations.
The Daily News was unable to confirm last night whether the building plans had since been submitted.
Police spokesman, Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said an inquest docket had been opened.