Discovery of trapped worker found alive 116 hours after George collapse is a ‘miracle’

Rescue teams are in communication with the trapped worker. Picture: Herman Pieters, Garden Route Municipality/Supplied

Rescue teams are in communication with the trapped worker. Picture: Herman Pieters, Garden Route Municipality/Supplied

Published May 11, 2024


Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde has described the discovery of a trapped worker as a miracle. This after the man was found alive 116 hours after the George building collapse on Monday.

“In what I can only describe as the miracle we have all been hoping for, today our rescue teams found a trapped worker alive,” said Winde on site earlier this morning, Saturday, 11 May.

The premier described the situation as a possible first in South African rescue history.

The news comes as rescue operations at the collapsed building site on 75 Victoria Street is into it’s fifth day.

The George Municipality said that the multi-agency command persists in employing a systematic rescue and recovery approach, meticulously clearing rubble to uncover potential voids (open spaces) where individuals may be trapped.

At 12pm, 11 May 2024, the operation has spanned 118 hours.

The construction of a proposed five-storey block of flats collapsed on Monday, with 81 construction workers present on the site.

On the day of the tragedy, there were cleaners, painters, and construction workers on site.

Rescue teams are in communication with the man found alive and the premier said that it will take some time to remove him from the site as he is trapped. Trauma doctors are on site to ensure he receives all the medical support needed.

“Thank you to the rescue teams and volunteers who have been working so hard these last 4, 5 days to rescue those trapped.

“We never gave up hope and today I cannot express the extent of my relief and joy. Thank you to all the teams – you are true heroes. I am so proud of you”, concluded Premier Winde.

— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) May 11, 2024

Alongside the current rescue efforts of the trapped man, in total forty-one workers have been pulled from the debris with 13 declared deceased. Thirty-nine workers remain unaccounted for while 13 patients are currently hospitalized.

The George Municipality said that the Joint District Operations Centre adheres to a rigorous double verification protocol in reporting rescue and recovery numbers, collaborating closely with recovery teams, hospitals, and forensic services.

“In our ongoing efforts to support survivors and families, we issue a call for professional psychosocial support practitioners proficient in Chewa, Portuguese, and Shona languages.

“Practitioners can reach out to Kholiswa Jobela at 078 210 5972 or Apolus Swart at 061 504 4205.”

There is also currently a need for following safety equipment: helmets, safety goggles, headlamps, and construction gloves.

These items can be delivered to GRDM Fire Station, Pearl Road, Tamsui Industria.

“We thank Love George, Gift of the Givers and George Alert Team for coordinating the donations with the support of Lions Club, Rotary, a number of small and big businesses, neighbourhood watches, faith-based organisations and members of the general public,” they said.

The owner and developer of the five-storey building said they will fully co-operate with the investigation into the cause of the tragedy.

Neo Victoria Developments, who said they are the owners of the land and the developer of the property, have broken their silence.

In a statement, the company said it was fully committed and supportive of the investigations to determine the cause of the tragedy and undertook to co-operate fully with all authorities.

“As owners and developers, we are more than shocked and horrified with this catastrophe. Buildings are not built with the purpose to collapse.

“The project team of specialists are appointed to execute the planning, design, and manage construction process and quality of work. As landowners and developers, we have committed to work with the investigating teams to analyse and evaluate whatever is needed as soon as practically possible.”