Building collapse: Rescue operation could take up to five days

Emergency services worked throughout the night. Picture: Herman Pieters / GRDM Communications Manager

Emergency services worked throughout the night. Picture: Herman Pieters / GRDM Communications Manager

Published May 7, 2024


Emergency services who have been on the scene for 22 hours remain determined to rescue all construction workers trapped in the rubble after a building collapsed in George on Monday.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell; Executive Mayor of George Municipality Leon van Wyk, Municipal Manager Dr Michele Gratz; and Colin Deiner, Head of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) gave an update on the work undertaken by local government and various stakeholders on Tuesday.

Before 12pm, the George Municipality confirmed the death toll has risen to six.

At the time of the collapse, just after 2pm, 75 construction workers were on-site in Victoria Street.

Winde conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased.

“Our priority right now is saving lives. Everything possible is being done to expedite this very delicate operation. I also want to thank all emergency personnel involved in this difficult operation. Your bravery and commitment are commendable and appreciated,” Winde said.

There are currently 111 emergency personnel involved in the operation on-site who are being aided by several volunteers and civil society groups.

“We will continue to do everything we can to support the ongoing search and rescue and recovery operation under way. Thank you to the residents of George and the province for all the offers of support that are flooding in. I urge the public to allow authorities the time and space to carry out the operation. All available resources have been deployed, with assistance provided by numerous municipalities and role-players. Further resources will be made available if and when they are required,” Winde said.

Gift of the Givers are on-site to assist. Picture: Gift of the Givers

As soon as local government was informed about the disaster, the Provincial Disaster Management Centre mobilised resources and staff from across the province and municipalities to get support to the site overnight.

Teams from the City of Cape Town, Breedevallei tech rescue, SARZA and the South African Police Service rushed to the site.

So far, 27 workers have been removed from the rubble, while 48 are still being searched for.

Three teams of rescue personnel are working on three different areas within the site.

Gift of the Givers are on-site to assist. Picture: Gift of the Givers

The entire operation is estimated to take four to five days to complete.

So far, doctors, Specialised Rescue Technicians (15 from George and 17 from Cape Town), Forensic Pathology Services, six specialised rescue vehicles and a special counselling unit have been set up at the District Office to support and manage emergency responses.

Psychosocial support services for the families and colleagues impacted by the building collapse have been arranged.


– Arrangements were made to escort and clear emergency vehicles and heavy-lifting crane equipment from Cape Town to George.

– Arrangements were made for the use of three movable flood lights.

=An engineer was sent on Monday to the site with more structural engineers on standby.

– The provincial government’s yellow fleet has been mobilised. These are vehicles used in road maintenance and construction. The fleet consists of several vehicles which range from bulldozers and Tractor-Loader-Backhoes (TLB), to water tankers and excavators as well as flat-beds. Depending on the need, the applicable unit will be made available.

– The Roads and General Infrastructure staff are on standby in George.

– The Department of Agriculture will be donating dairy products from the Outeniqua Research Farm worth R100,000, 20% of their monthly output, to the teams working on the rescue efforts.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has its psychologists and social workers on standby for any support needed by schools. Principals and circuit managers have been alerted.

The WCED Eden and Central Karoo district office in York Street is being used as a trauma debriefing centre which is two buildings down from the scene.

The names of learners who have family involved will be identified, and once the WCED has the names, the relevant additional support will be provided.

The District Director has been in contact with the Mayor of George and is providing support where needed.

If you wish to provide drinking water, Lucozade, wine gums, or any food for the emergency services officials while they are on-site – please deliver to the tent site via Ivy Street at 79 Victoria St, Delplan Consulting which is being manned by Gift of the Givers and Herman Pienaar of LoveGeorge.

For enquiries to donate contact: Gift of the Givers: Mario Ferreira at 082 490 2752 and Herman Pienaar 082 829 6428.

Safety equipment, including safety goggles, headlamps and construction gloves are needed. Donations can be delivered to GRDM Fire Station on Pearl Road in the Tamsui Industria.

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