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44 workers still missing days after South Africa building collapse

44 workers still missing days after South Africa building collapse
Rescue personnel search the site of a building collapse in George, South Africa, Thursday, May 9, 2024.   -  
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Jerome Delay/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

As hope dwindles, authorities in South Africa race against time to rescue 44 construction workers trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building.

The daunting task ahead involves moving thousands of tons of concrete with heavy machinery to search for survivors. The death toll climbed to nine as a critically injured worker passed away in the hospital.

Of the 28 workers rescued from the site, 21 were in critical condition or had life-threatening injuries following Monday's collapse of the five-story apartment complex that was under construction.

With fears that the final death toll could exceed 50, authorities in the city of George on South Africa's south coast said large earth-moving equipment had arrived and rescue teams were removing huge slabs of concrete and rubble to reach deeper into the wreckage.

READ ALSO:  South Africa launches investigations into building collapse

it was still a rescue rather than a recovery operation, but no survivors have been located or brought out since Wednesday.

"Despite the introduction of large machinery, rescue techniques will still be applied meticulously and sensitively by the highly skilled and experienced disaster management team," the city said in a statement.

It also revised the number of missing from 38 to 44 after determining that there were more construction workers at the site than previously thought. New information provided by the construction company showed there were 81 workers when the building came crashing down, not 75 as authorities had initially announced, it said.

READ ALSO: South Africa: Rescue operations continue to save dozens trapped in building collapse

More than 600 personnel are involved in the rescue operation, with many brought in from nearby towns and cities. George, which is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Cape Town, is a small city known as a vacation and golfing destination.

Authorities say multiple investigations are underway into the cause of the collapse, including by police, the provincial government, and the National Department of Labor.

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