Efforts to identify deceased in George building collapse fast-tracked

George building collapse site
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A large team of forensic pathology experts is currently working at the site of the George building collapse to assist with identifying those who died in the tragedy.

24 people have been declared dead, while rescue efforts continue to focus on the 28 others who are unaccounted for in the collapse that happened exactly a week ago.

Forensic Pathology Services Assistant Director, Floyd Herwels says efforts in identifying the deceased are being fast-tracked to provide closure to family and friends.

He says while some of the deceased have been identified, DNA testing, finger printing and other methods are being used to identify others.

“Right now due to the bodies being recovered they are in a state of decomposition so that makes the visual identification a little more tricky and a little more difficult. Normally we would not show any pictures to families of any bodies in a state of decomposition but because of the situation that we find ourselves in, we have to sensitise the family members to the fact that the pictures might be gory but it will assist us.”

George Building Collapse | Death toll rises to 24

Sniffer dogs

Authorities at the site have given credit to the sniffer dogs and their handlers who were instrumental in helping locate some of the survivors.

The highly trained Belgian Malinois dogs have been working alongside the rescue workers.

Sergeant Nichola Kotze from the Khowa Canine Unit in the Eastern Cape and her dog, Dina, have been working tirelessly for the last week to assist in the rescue operation.

“What we are doing is we are working 2 shifts, a day shift and a night shift. We have 2 dogs on each shift so we use them to search and we take turns and every time just to confirm where one dog has been we utilise the other one and their hits have been spot on all the time.” 

Survivor recounts ordeal 

A survivor who was retrieved last Tuesday from the rubble has spoken out about his ordeal, saying that he is grateful to be alive.

Electrician and father of a two-year-old, Delvin Safers, who was was rescued after 28 hours, suffered a fractured rib, pelvic injuries and a head wound.

While in an emotional state, Safers said it was difficult knowing his colleagues are still trapped.

“The first thing I saw was darkness. There was no light and I was looking for light … literally, no light…And I was just laying there for the first quarter of an hour to half an hour, just trying to figure out what had happened. And then I somehow just remembered I had my phone in my bag, in my pocket, grabbed my phone, put on the light just to see what was going on around me. Then I saw on top of me was a big concrete slab and my right arm was trapped and my legs were trapped, but somehow I just removed all the rubble and all those rocks and stuff, just to move my body and stuff. And that’s when I saw some of my colleagues just here, by my feet, were already deceased.”

George building collapse – survivor speaks of ordeal: