Bodies of construction workers who fell down drain in Mitchells Plain recovered, Cape Town
City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue crews and emergency services responded to a confined space retrieval on Tuesday, 11 October 2022. SAPS Western Cape spokesman, Captain Frederick van Wyk, said police were called out to a drowning at the scene where construction workers were busy working in a manhole in Sea Otter Street in Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town. One worker went to retrieve a “bladder” also known as a suction bag, which had become stuck. “When he tried to exit the manhole he collapsed. His co-worker then attempted to rescue him but was overcome by the gasses. He collapsed while trying to get out. A third person, identified as the foreman, attempted to rescue the second man but was forced to abandon his rescue attempt due to the fumes. He managed to raise the alarm,” said Captain Van Wyk.
Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson at the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, said, “Divers have retrieved the body of a second person who became trapped underground in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain. The City’s Fire and Rescue crews were back on the scene before 05h00am on Wednesday, 12 October 2022, to resume operations and the man’s body was retrieved just after 06h00am. He was declared deceased by medics at 06h20am.”
“The incident unfolded around 10h00am on Tuesday, when emergency services responded to a report that someone had fallen into a manhole in Rocklands and that a second person had also become stuck. Fire crews from Mitchells Plain and Goodwood fire stations were dispatched along with a technical rescue vehicle with the equipment needed for such an operation. Metro EMS staff, including a paramedic, were also on scene”, said Carelse.
He added, “We started with the recovery of the first body. A fire fighter and an EMS medic entered the manhole. The first body was recovered at 12h15pm. It took them 1 hrs 26 min exactly from start to get the victim on the surface. During Tuesday’s operations, one fire fighter was taken to hospital due to possible contamination with the sewage water.”
CVS Construction, a civil engineers firm based in the Western Cape, confirmed that it was their two workers who fell down the drain but said they could not give out more information due to the sensitive nature of the investigation.
The foreman was rushed to hospital before the fire and rescue services arrived on the scene. He is still in hospital.
An inquest docket has been registered and the police are investigating the drowning.
Sources: Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service