George tragedy: 39 still missing; death toll rises


A total of 36 people have already been rescued from the rubble of the apartment building that collapsed in George on Monday.

The death toll has risen to seven and 39 people are still missing. A total of 75 workers were on site when the multi-storey apartment building in Victoria Street collapsed shortly after 2pm. The building was still under construction when the incident occurred.

Rescue operations continue unabated with a multidisciplinary rescue team of more than 200 emergency service personnel involved.

The Western Cape government said it was monitoring the situation and sending resources to assist the rescue operation.

“All necessary support has been provided to emergency personnel to speed up their response. Right now, officials are focused on saving lives. This is our top priority at this stage,” said Prime Minister Alan Winde.

He urged the public to allow emergency services officers to carry out their duties and not to put their own lives at risk by going to the site.

Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.

“The president’s thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones as well as the families of the people who are still trapped in the rubble,” said Vincent Magwenya, his spokesperson.

Pres. Ramaphosa wished the rescue teams the best in their operations and said investigations into the cause of the incident must aim to bring closure to the community and prevent a recurrence of this type of disaster.

An independent engineering company was appointed to investigate the cause of the collapse. Winde announced that V3 Consulting Engineering will conduct the investigation on behalf of the province. The company is from Mossel Bay.

Leon van Wyk, mayor of George, said plans for the multi-storey building were submitted to the municipality on 22 December 2022 and approved on 6 July 2023.

Casper Hutten from V3 Consulting Engineering said that representatives of the company were already on site on Tuesday to familiarize themselves with the situation first hand. Among other things, they took several pictures.

It is impossible at this stage to indicate how long the investigation will last or when any findings will be made public. Similar investigations in the past lasted up to a decade, but he does not foresee that it will last that long in this case.