Patients in a South African health facility were trapped on Thursday after a roof collapsed at Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke state hospital.
“There are several patients trapped. Rescue workers are busy on the scene at the moment trying to ascertain the safety,” ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring told Reuters.
The News24 portal quoted emergency service officials as confirming that five people had been rescued from the rubble. The five sustained minor tissue injuries, amongst them, two patients, two workers and one staff member.
They were actually working on the roof. They were sealing the roof when the roof collapsed. They were doing it in phases, so they’ll seal one area and move rubble in one area.
It is unclear whether there are more people trapped but rescue officers continue to work on the scene with heavy machinery brought to dig through the debris.
Chief Director of Gauteng Emergency Medical Services, Arnold Malotana, said that the roof was being sealed when it collapsed.
“They were actually working on the roof. They were sealing the roof when the roof collapsed. They were doing it in phases, so they’ll seal one area and move rubble in one area,” he said.
Workers however told the media that they were not surprised by the incident because the roof had been leaking. A legislator representing the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Guateng province says he had been raising red flags over the roof for years.
Jack Bloom said in a tweet: “The devastation at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital – I warned years ago that the hospital was structurally unsound.”
The Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is one of the country’s biggest health facilities.
The hospital’s professional and support staff exceeds 4,000 people. It is also the main teaching hospital for the University of the Witwatersrand, faculty of Health Sciences.
The institution provides the service base for undergraduate and post-graduate training in all area of health professions.
It was formerly known as the Johannesburg General Hospital, nicknamed Joburg Gen. It has 1,088 usable beds.