UPDATEThe fatal victim that fell in Antwerp, Belgium last night due to the collapse of a scaffolding and part of a school under construction, was recovered around 4 a.m. this morning, reports the Belgian fire brigade, who searched in vain all night for five missing persons who had been killed under the fire. rubble.
Caroline Van De Pol, Tom van der Meer
19 Jun. 2021
Hours earlier, the emergency service already announced on Twitter that the rescue operation would continue through the night. “The rescue work is still going on. The containers with rubble drive back and forth. Our crews, the contractor and civil defense continue to search all night. The area is still closed off by the police.”
The fire brigade previously managed to free ten people and is still searching for at least five missing people under the rubble. It would be construction workers with Portuguese nationality. Police say a total of 20 people were injured, at least eight of them seriously. Four are in mortal danger.
Top floor collapsed
The Gazet van Antwerpen writes that according to the first information it seems that the top floor of the new building has partly come down, but how that could have happened is still unclear. Some people are also said to be trapped inside, the fire brigade is in contact with them.
“The situation is very unstable and that makes liberations and searches very difficult,” the emergency service said. Rescue dogs and a drone are used in the search. The damage in the area is also great. Emergency services are trying to protect everything as much as possible against tonight’s expected thunderstorm.
The jetty was erected for the construction of a new primary school with sports hall. On images of the Flemish site The last news It can be seen that part of the building has also collapsed. According to a reporter, construction was almost finished: “The solar panels were already on it.” According to her, construction workers were also working on the scaffolding when it collapsed.
Facade fell away
A foreman of contractor Democo was at work at the time of the collapse. ,,We were busy building the facade when the scaffolding suddenly collapsed. There were nine workmen from my team standing there at the time. They have all been taken to hospital. In the building on the fourth and fifth floors, another team was breaking out a piece of floor.”
It would still be a guess as to the cause of the collapse. “More research will follow later. Our first concern goes to the victims,” said the fire brigade. The Gazet van Antwerpen writes that according to the first information it seems that the top floor of the new building has partly come down, but how that could have happened is still unclear.
Evie Vergauwen lives near the building and saw it happen. ,,The school will open in September, so the workers here were working day and night. Suddenly the scaffolding collapsed like dominoes and afterwards also part of the building. A large cloud of dust was visible. It’s lucky that this didn’t happen on Saturday, because then a lot of children are playing,” he says. Other witnesses speak of a huge bang. “I knew right away it was serious,” said one.
A local resident who works at a hospital said she heard a lot of screaming. “I went downstairs in my pajamas to help,” she told the Gazet. According to the woman, the fire brigade brought the injured to a field between the buildings. “I’ve learned that the quietest victims are often the worst off so I’ve started worrying about that.”
Later, Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden also visited the disaster site. She spoke of a “terrible drama” and expressed condolences to victims and their loved ones. “I am also here to support the emergency services during the difficult search that will take hours.”
The school is located in the Nieuw Zuid district, in the southwest of the city and not far from the Scheldt. The medical intervention plan has been announced and residents are asked to stay away. The city of Antwerp asks local residents to keep windows and doors closed for the time being and to stay indoors. “The strong wind can cause dust to blow up,” it sounds. “Emergency services are monitoring the situation in the area.” Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA) also asks to let the emergency services do their job. “Our emergency services are fully engaged in a rescue effort,” he says. “They need all the space, so avoid the place for the time being.”
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