South Africa hospital roof collapse sparks search

A rescue worker works at the scene of a roof collapse at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg on March 2, 2017. Several people were feared trapped in the rubble following the accident. / AFP PHOTO / Marco LONGARI

Emergency workers dug through rubble in Johannesburg on Thursday after part of a hospital’s roof collapsed, reportedly trapping several patients.

Others were removed from wards, health officials said of the incident in an area near the maternity department of the Charlotte Maxeke hospital.

Local television showed images of men sifting through debris including mangled corrugated iron in a devastated atrium area.

“Rescue services are still digging in the rubble which is quite a painstakingly slow process,” ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring told AFP.

“Initial reports show there were several patients trapped beneath the rubble. That cannot be confirmed at this moment. ER24 services has several vehicles on the scene.”

The main opposition Democratic Alliance party claimed that stones had been shifted onto the roof that collapsed.

The Charlotte Maxeke is a large public general hospital in central Johannesburg, named after a social worker and activist who died in 1939.

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