Monday 23 October 2017

Dozens die in Latvia shop collapse

Debris which was removed by rescue teams during a search for victims at the Maxima supermarket in Riga, Latvia (AP)
Debris which was removed by rescue teams during a search for victims at the Maxima supermarket in Riga, Latvia (AP)
Rescuers at the Maxima grocery store after its roof collapsed, killing at least 17 people (AP)
Rescuers work at the Maxima store in Riga after its roof collapsed (AP)
Rescue workers search debris of the Maxima supermarket in Riga (AP)

The number of dead from a supermarket roof collapse in Latvia has risen to 45.

Police say officials expect the death toll at the sprawling Maxima supermarket in the capital Riga to rise further.

The number of injured remains at 35, including 10 firefighters, and nine of the dead are still unidentified.

Rescue workers were keeping up their round-the-clock search for possible survivors on Friday.

They were periodically turning off all equipment and asking relatives of missing people to call so they could hear ringing mobile phones in the rubble.

The reason for the collapse during the shopping rush-hour on Thursday was still not known but rescue and police officials said that possible theories include building design flaws and poor construction work.

Pictures from residential buildings overlooking the store showed an enormous crater-like hole in the roof. Building materials were stacked on remaining sections of the roof, where workers were building a garden as part of the Maxima supermarket's original design plan.

Several large construction cranes hauled debris from the hole. Work was continuing slowly since both the rubble and remaining sections of roof were like a house of cards and could easily collapse further if a wrong piece is moved or lifted, said an official.

Firefighters suffered casualties when large sections of roof fell on them right after their arrival on the scene.

The rescue service estimated that approximately 500 square metres (5,300 sq ft) of roof collapsed, destroying large sections of the store's high walls and nearly all its front windows.

The building was completed in November 2011. The Lithuania-owned Maxima was reportedly renting the space. Maxima officials refused to comment and said that they would release a statement later.

AP

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