The collapse of a 16-story building under construction in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the country’s largest city, has caused four deaths thus far and at least 60 people are missing, according to government and emergency officials who were still combing through the wreckage last night.
Rescue official Walji Ali said five children are believed to be among the missing, as a group of boys customarily played soccer in a small field next to the construction site.
Ali Jawad Bhimani, a hotel owner who lives near the building in Dar es Salaam’s normally bustling Kariakoo central business district, told CNN the building collapsed Friday with a “huge whoosh and then thump.”
“The fallen building is next to our mosque. There is a small field there where the young boys play football. The building fell right on top,” he said. “But 10 to 15 of the boys playing got away safely and are unharmed.”
According to a statement from the nearby mosque, four of the boys playing there were still missing.
At first the scene was flooded by police and search dogs, but by Friday evening, the dogs had been replaced by heavy equipment used to remove debris.
The Tanzanian Red Cross said it was fortunate that the streets were relatively empty of vendors and shoppers because of a holiday or casualty figures could have been far higher.
“So far we have managed to rescue live at least 13 people and four dead bodies. Two were seriously injured,” Stella Marealle from the Red Cross told CNN.
Suleiman Kova, a regional police commander, said in addition to the deaths, at least 17 people were injured, including construction workers.
There were more than 60 people inside the building when it suddenly fell apart.
“We heard someone inside the debris call for help and worked hard to save the survivors, ” a rescuer told Xinhua.
Access to adjacent streets were blocked for safety against falling parts of the building. The building under construction belongs to Tanzania National Housing Corporation, with the main contractor listed as Lucky Construction Limited.