Frantic efforts to free two still trapped in hospital collapse

Emergency services are working to free two people who are still trapped in the rubble of the collapsed foyer of the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.

“We know of two people that are still missing‚ the emergency people are removing the rubble which forms part of the room of the foyer that has collapsed‚” said City of Johannesburg EMS spokesperson Nana Radebe.

“We are working with our urban search and rescue team to help us access the people [who are] missing so that we can communicate with them. At the moment we are aware of one injured person and two are still trapped.”

An eyewitness said emergency workers were doing their best to uncover the trapped people.

“We just heard a loud bang and I could not believe my eyes. It is clear that there are still people trapped underneath but the rescue team is doing its best to get to them. It’s a mess‚” the eyewitness said.

A fifteen-year-old girl who didn’t want her name used‚ told TimesLIVE she was “lost for words” as the roof collapsed just as she was about to enter the hospital.

“I was late for my appointment at the dentist. I was about to go in when it happened. In my mind‚ I didn’t think the roof would fall. I’m lost for words‚” she said.

“All I saw was the roof collapse‚ and then there was a lot of dust. I could just hear people scream and then we came outside‚” she said.

“I’m glad I wasn’t trapped inside‚ but I still feel really bad for the people trapped inside.”

Another woman who only identified herself as Nomsa‚ said she was standing near the lift when she heard a noise‚ saw some dust and then a louder noise.

“I heard a bang and then the roof collapsed. I was on my way to the pharmacy when it happened. I’m glad I didn’t make it all the way in‚” she said.

The Gauteng Department of Health issued a statement confirming there had been a structural collapse at the hospital.

“The collapse took place in the passage near maternity department on the hospital street. At this stage we can neither confirm the number of injuries nor what caused the collapse.

“Emergency Medical Services are at the scene. The Department will update the public continuously as we get more information on the incident‚” the department said.

A video by Twitter user Werner Vermaak and posted on the social network shows the aftermath of the collapse.

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