Search for bodies continues at collapsed house

Johannesburg - Sniffer dogs were being used to search for bodies in the rubble at a house which collapsed at the Meyersdal Eco Estate in Alberton, south-east of Johannesburg, on Monday.

"In the beginning we counted five bodies and then we found another three," Ekurhuleni emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi said.

Subsequently another body was found, bringing the total to nine. Eight injured people were taken to hospital.

A side of the house collapsed while builders were working on it on Monday morning.

Ntladi said there were two contractors on site.

One said there were 24 builders, but emergency services were still trying to get information from the other contractor.

"The search is still continuing. We are trying to find out how many people are missing. Until we get the number of people who were on site we will continue to search," he said.

There were conflicting reports of how many people had been injured and were still missing.

Earlier, Netcare 911 said nine people had been injured. ER24 paramedics said two of the 27 workers who had been on the site were still missing.

The labour department said it had sent inspectors to investigate the building collapse. They would issue a preliminary report on the cause of the accident.

The estate confirmed the accident.

"Today, at approximately 10:30, a structure at the house of one of our residents which was undergoing alterations collapsed," it said in a statement.

"Emergency services are still involved in rescue operations and the families of the affected workers have yet to be informed."

At the entrance to the upmarket estate non-residents were questioned about their reasons for being there before they were allowed access.

Some were turned away.

Two giraffes were removed from the estate last month. They were being transported in a truck on the N1 highway when one of them hit its head on a bridge and died.

Last week, the Gauteng agriculture department said the estate was being investigated over whether it had the correct permits to bring in and keep giraffes.

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