1 dead, fifty feared trapped in South Africa shopping centre collapse

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters/AP) - Up to 50 construction workers were trapped under rubble and at least one person was killed after the collapse of a half-built shopping centre near the South African coastal city of Durban, emergency services and domestic media said on Tuesday.

A further 26 people had been taken to hospital with “massive traumatic injuries”, Mr Chris Botha, a spokesman for the Netcare 911 emergency service, said.

The accident happened on Tuesday in Tongaat, near the eastern coastal city of Durban, and rescue teams rushed to the scene to help workers who were trapped beneath the rubble. Ms Mandy Govender, a police spokesman, says sniffer dogs are combing the area for survivors.

Television footage showed police and rescue workers walking over large piles of rubble and twisted metal lying next to a railway track.

Mr Botha said the second floor of the structure had given way. “The scene is extremely horrific ... concrete big blocks have fallen on to people,” he told broadcaster ENCA from the scene. 

“The guys are busy using hydraulic rescue equipment to break through the concrete and get to some of the patients.”