Riga supermarket collapse death toll reaches 53 people, rescuers have 150 m 2 of debris left to be combed
“State Fire and Rescue Service experts and Riga Duma representatives are now discussing how to reinforce parts of the building which are still standing but might collapse,” Victoria Shembele, a Service official, said to the local Baltkom radio station.
“Rescue teams are working in shifts replacing each other every 20-30 minutes as the work is physically challenging. Rescue teams from other Latvian regions have arrived today in order to help their colleagues in Riga,” she added.
Up to 16 people might still be trapped under debris of the supermarket. There is little hope that anyone of them is still alive, rescuers admit.
The accident occurred on Thursday night. First, one of the walls and roof collapsed. When rescue efforts were already under way, another wall went down.
Earlier today, there was a danger that the building would collapse once again and the rescue operation was suspended for an hour.
Some 150 rescuers are involved in the rescue operation. They work in groups in five different places of the building.
Two Russian nationals with Latvian residence were killed as a result of the supermarket roof collapsed in Riga, the Latvian Foreign Ministry press service informs.
“Two Russian nationals, a man and woman, were killed under debris. The information was released by the police. The Russians had Latvian residence permit. An Armenian citizen also died in the accident,” the Latvian Foreign Ministry said.
Rescue workers pulled bodies from the ruins of a collapsed supermarket in the Latvian capital Riga on Friday as the death toll rose to 51 in the Baltic state's worst disaster in decades. Cranes lifted large slabs from the wreckage of the Maxima store to find people who had been trapped when the roof fell in late on Thursday. The supermarket was full of shoppers on their way home from work.
Rescue workers cleared away rubble from the store, which had occupied around 1,500 square metres (16,150 square feet), as ambulances and fire engines stood by.
Police said the death toll had reached 51 as of 2000 GMT, including three rescue workers. Thirty-eight more were injured. They said no survivors had been found in the past few hours.
"We're still having moments of silence to listen for voices of people trapped but unfortunately the only voices out there are of firefighters working," state police spokesman Toms Sadovskis said.
Around 80 firefighters and 56 trainees from a firefighting college continued relentlessly to search for people still trapped more than 24 hours after the accident.
To help rescuers, police created a map, based on security camera footage, showing where shoppers were standing at the time of the collapse.
State rescue service chief Oskars Abolins, told TV the search was slow because the rubble was up to 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) deep and firefighters had to clear it by hand and with shovels.
Abolins said rescue work was expected to continue all night. Firefighters still had to search around 400 square metres for any people, dead or alive.
Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs tweeted that around five people might be still trapped.
Ambulance chief Armands Plorins said cold, damp and the passage of time were all reducing the chances of finding survivors. "But, of course, hope always remains."
The death toll from a cave-in at a supermarket in the Latvian capital climbed to 49 on Friday, with 30 more victims still feared trapped under the rubble 24 hours after the disaster, Riga's mayor said.
"We now have 49 deaths with most probably another 30 people inside. Most likely they will all be dead. We hope there will be survivors but now it's more than 24 hours and the chances aren't that high," said mayor Nils Usakovs.
Latvian rescue services said that 47 people died when the roof of a supermarket collapsed in the capital, Riga, on Thursday. At least 40 others were injured, many of them were hospitalized in critical condition. In an interview with VOR, regular contributor, Christina Yadrevska said that people are queuing in front of the State Blood Donor Centre in Riga after it announced a blood shortage.
Among the dead were three firefighters who were killed trying to rescue people following the initial cave-in of the roof.
According to Yadrevska, it is still unclear how many more people are left under the rubble and how many more lives will be lost. It is reported that a child is among the injured. Telephone help lines are up and running. Unfortunately, there is still little information on the situation, she said.
The police say that the fire alarm had sounded just before the accident occurred. However, the true cause of the roof's collapsed is still unknown. Yadrevska says they are looking at different possibilities; from a violation of safety rules to the erection of a garden on the supermarket’s roof.
The Mayor of Riga, Nils Usakovs, interrupted his vacation upon hearing of the accident. He is now on his way back to the capital.
The tragedy shocked the small Baltic state, with the government declaring three days of mourning, starting on Saturday, and planning a moment of silence on Monday for its worst accident since regaining independence in 1991.
The roof of the Maxima supermarket smashed down on customers during peak shopping hours at around 6:00 pm on Thursday in the Riga suburb of Zolitude.
Rescuers rushed to the scene but many were themselves trapped when the more of the roof caved in a second time.
Voice of Russia, Reuters, RIA, RT, BBC, Interfax, RIA