Science

‘We Still Have Hope’: Rescuers Race to Find Dozens Missing in South Africa Building Collapse

It may not have been his dream, but Gift Kasonda was happy to have been working as a laborer on a construction site in South Africa’s coastal city of George. A recent high school graduate, he had emigrated from Malawi last year and was hoping to save money for college, said his uncle, Gracium Msiska.

Now his family is left wondering whether those hopes have been dashed. The four-story building under construction where he was working collapsed in a thunderous instant on Monday, killing at least eight people and leaving dozens of others, including Mr. Kasonda, missing.

As the search for survivors passed the 72-hour mark on Thursday, the screams for help from beneath the rubble that offered signs of life in the early hours of the collapse faded. But rescuers were still desperately combing through some 3,000 tons of concrete. As of Thursday afternoon, 29 of the 37 people pulled from the wreckage had survived and 44 people were still missing, according to the authorities.

Investigators have only just begun the work of trying to figure out what caused the building to come down. For now, many relatives of the missing, like Mr. Msiska, are focused on the race against time to find survivors — enduring sleepless nights and simply praying for the best.

Gift Kasonda in an undated photo at the building that collapsed.Credit…via Gracium Msiska

Mr. Msiska said his nephew, who is 18 or 19 years old, arrived in South Africa last October, settling in the same township just outside George where he has lived since 2019, when Mr. Msiska himself came from Malawi in search of economic opportunities.

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