Six victims identified, 20 people unaccounted for as George building collapse death toll rises to 32

14 May 2024 - 07:47
By Phathu Luvhengo
Rescue workers continue to look for survivors after the building collapsed in George last week.
Image: WERNER HILLS Rescue workers continue to look for survivors after the building collapsed in George last week.

At least 20 people are unaccounted for as the death toll rises to 32 after the collapse of a partially built building in George in the Western Cape a week ago.  

George municipality said rescue workers and other role players have been on site for 184 hours at 6am on Tuesday.  

A total of 81 people were on site when the incident occurred. To date 61 have been rescued and recovered, of which 32 are deceased and 12 are hospitalised.  

The municipality said the primary focus continues to be on rescue efforts.

“With this in mind, we are also proactively setting up plans to expedite the identification of the deceased. This is done by the forensic pathology service and the police service.  

“We endeavour to fast-track the process to help bring closure to families. Fingerprints, DNA testing and photographs of unique markings such as tattoos and clothing items are some of the methods used to identify the deceased,” the municipality said.  

It confirmed six of the deceased were positively identified, and this information went through the system.  

The municipality said it was experiencing difficulties in obtaining accurate names of individuals missing or deceased.  

“We urgently request families who have lost contact with their loved ones to come to the George Civic Centre on York Street. This will enable the department of social development to collect detailed and precise information, ensuring all records are accurately documented.” 

It said the joint district operations centre's adherence to a stringent double verification protocol was crucial for maintaining the integrity and accuracy of reported numbers of the deceased, which is essential in emergency and disaster response scenarios.  

“This verification process involves cross-referencing information from multiple reliable sources, such as recovery teams, hospitals and forensic services.” 

The South African Local Government Association provincial and national teams will visit the area on Tuesday and employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi will visit the area on Thursday.