LIVE BLOG: George collapse: ‘There are not enough answers at this stage for all the questions that surround this tragedy,” says building contractor

Rescue operations continue. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Rescue operations continue. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published May 15, 2024

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8h00: President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to visit the George building site collapse where 19 people are still unaccounted for. A total of 33 people have now been declared deceased comprising 27 males and six males. Rescue workers and other role-players have been on site of the collapsed building for 232 hours.

14h30: Building contractors of the George construction site that collapsed last week have broken their silence.

Liatel Developments (Pty) Ltd was instituted as the builders of the five-story building in Victoria Street.

Director of Liatel Developments, Theuns Kruger in a statement to IOL said May 6, has become a day synonymous with disaster, tragedy, and broken hearts throughout our nation as a result of the building collapse.

“Liatel has expressed its sympathies with the families and the victims of this tragedy and has had resources deployed at the disaster site after the disaster occurred. Liatel has ensured that it had representatives at the disaster site to assist with the rescue efforts and unraveling the facts of what had caused the building collapse,” Kruger said.

On behalf of the company, Kruger said he visited the offices of the management disaster authorities as well as the Department of Labour who are hard at work in probing the cause of the horrific incident.

“There are not enough answers at this stage for all the questions that surround this tragedy,” Kruger explained.

“The questions from the surviving victims, the families of all victims of the tragedy, and those involved with the investigations will be answered in the days, weeks, and months to follow. It is regrettable that the answers will take some time to address as it is dependent on what the investigations reveal.”

He said Liatel personnel have been on-site and focused in assisting with the rescue operations of trapped workers.

Currently, 19 workers remain unaccounted for and 33 people have since been declared deceased.

The company said it was aware the identification of those who died are still being conducted.

“At this time Liatel makes the firm commitment that it will cooperate, and is currently cooperating, with the ongoing search and rescue and recovery operations,” Kruger explained.

“It further gives its unwavering commitment to cooperate with the authorities that are conducting the crucial investigation into this disaster and also, vitally so, will reach out to all victims and the families of all victims when the time to do so arrives,” Kruger said.

“Liatel is currently focussed on the processes as stated and it too needs a better understanding of what had occurred. There has been engagement individually with families which will continue.”

The company conveyed its deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and expressed its gratitude to those involved with the rescue efforts.

Liatel said more updates would follow.

11h30: President Cyril Ramaphosa to visit George after building collapse

President Cyril Ramaphosa will be visiting the construction site in George in the Western Cape on Thursday after the building collapse more than a week ago.

Since the fatal incident on Monday, May 6, government and its disaster management agencies at all levels have mobilised personnel and resources towards the rescue efforts and providing support to the survivors and families of the deceased.

By Wednesday, the death toll was at 33.

At the time of the incident, 81 construction workers were on site, to date, 19 remain unaccounted for.

Rescue operations continue.

“President Ramaphosa remains deeply attentive to the rescue and recovery efforts underway and has expressed his deep condolences to the family and friends of the deceased workers,” the Presidency said.

Ahead of Ramaphosa’s visit on Thursday, Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Employment and Labour, Health, Police, International Relations and Cooperation, and Public Works and Infrastructure have visited the site and have been working collaboratively with the Disaster Joint Operations Centre, with the Western Cape provincial government and the Garden Route District Municipality.

09h30: George collapse: death toll remains at 33 as 18 workers now identified

It has been nine days since the building collapse in George and rescue operations remain under way for the 19 workers still unaccounted for.

The death toll remains at 33 (27 men and six women), 62 workers have been rescued and recovered while 12 workers are still hospitalised.

The George Municipality said 18 people have since been identified.

“The formal identification process has been completed by the Victim Identification Centre and Forensic Pathology Service (FPS) has identified 18 people (14 men and four women),” municipality spokesperson, Chantel Edwards said.

The building collapse site. Picture: Herman Pieters / George Municipality

The nationality of the identified deceased workers has also been established.

Seven of the workers are South African, five are from Malawi, three are from Zimbabwe, two are from Mozambique, and one from Lesotho.

The municipality further said food donations for the impacted families have exceeded the need.

“The George Municipality expresses profound gratitude for the overwhelming support shown through food donations for the families impacted by the recent building collapse. Acknowledging the generosity of the community, the municipality announces that the donations received exceed the immediate needs of the affected families.

“Consequently, no further food donations are necessary until further notice at the George Civic Centre. However, for those still willing to contribute, donations may be redirected to AFM (AGS) Soteria Church at 27 Victoria Street.

“The municipality extends its sincere appreciation to all individuals and organisations for their remarkable outpouring of goodwill during this difficult period,” Edwards said.

National Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi is expected to visit the construction site on Thursday, May 16.

Follow IOL’s coverage as rescue operations continue in George.

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