DAR ES SALAAM, Apr 1 – The death toll from a building which collapsed in Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam reached 25 Sunday, officials said as hope faded of finding those missing two days after the accident.
“Six bodies were found between Saturday night and this (Sunday) afternoon. This brings the total number confirmed dead to 25,” Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Saidi Mecky Sadicky told AFP, updating an earlier toll of 19.
“The rescue exercise is still going on slowly. It is complicated and there is rain, but they will continue working there until every point is sifted,” he added.
Several dozen people are still missing around the site, which was littered with huge chunks of concrete, and Sadicky said earlier there was “little hope to find anyone alive”.
It has been more than 48 hours since the last of 18 survivors were pulled from the remains of the 16-storey building.
Hundreds of rescuers have worked non-stop in search of those believed to be still trapped in the rubble from the shell of the tower, which was being built near a mosque in the Kisutu area of the coastal city.
Sadicky said between 60 and 70 people were reported to have been at or near the construction site Friday morning when the building collapsed, meaning that between 17 and 27 people could still be trapped.
Hundreds of people, including residents and army rescuers, clawed through piles of rubble in the hunt for survivors, alongside earthmovers and excavators.
Chinese construction firms in the city were told by their embassy to lend extra equipment to aid the rescue effort and Chinese workers have been at the site instructing operators of excavators and forklifts that were sifting through the rubble.
Local residents have turned out to supply rescuers with food, water and medication.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete visited the scene of the disaster on Friday and Saturday and posted messages of condolence on his Twitter account.
Kikwete also visited the Muhimbili National Hospital Sunday afternoon to console victims admitted there.
In 2008, another building that collapsed in Dar es Salaam claimed at least four lives.
The ill-fated building is a joint project between the state-owned National Housing Corporation and Ladha Construction Limited.
Sadicky said investigations into the cause of the accident are under way and police are holding for questioning six people — the owners of the building and officials from both the construction firm and Dar es Salaam City Council.