City of Tshwane Emergency Management Services respond to structural collapse at mall
The City of Tshwane Emergency Management Services responded to a structural collapse at the Jacaranda Centre in Rietfontein on Thursday, 30 July 2020. One person was killed and 14 rushed to hospital when the four-storey building under construction collapsed on construction workers at the Jakaranda Centre in Rietfontein. City of Tshwane EMS’ Station 15 (Innesdal) received a call of a building collapse (structural collapse: code 888, disasters) at Jacaranda Centre situated at 18th Avenue and Fredericka Street. Station 15, under Company Commander MW van Ginkel, responded with Engine 152, Technical Container H764 and Rapid Intervention Unit 151, Command C763 and 13 crew all together. Upon arrival at the scene, Commander MW van Ginkel reported that the whole four floor structure had collapsed, immediately cordoned off ends of Fredericka between 18th Avenue and 19th Avenue, the affected area and established Jacaranda Command Post. Jacaranda Command requested the Control Centre to activate a district commander and gave the presence of the following mutual assistance services already on scene: the South African Police Service (SAPS), Ambulink Ambulance Services, NetCare 911, Best Care Ambulance Services and GPG Ambulance Services.
One person was reported dead by paramedics found on scene, with suspicions of possible missing persons. Some patients were busy being treated by mutual assistance ambulance services on scene, while other had already been transported to medical facilities. It was confirmed that 14 patients were transported to two medical facilities ie Life Eugene Marais Hospital and Pretoria West Hospitals, four with moderate to serious injuries and 10 with minor injuries.
The search and rescue for the possible missing persons were delayed due to the unstable damaged structure and the need for further information regarding the involved structure and its occupancy. The site safety officer conducted a rollcall of the personnel and reported that all staff had been accounted. The structural engineer on site confirmed that is was fairly safe to recover the body of the deceased employee, a 46-year-old male. A rapid recovery of the body was carried out by fire fighters and SAPS officers. The South African Police K9 officer officers conducted a search of the area and no further persons were discovered.
The scene was handed over to SAPS.
The multidisciplinary responses experienced on the incident created confusion for the scene management as most of other modes of emergency services had already given assistance to the emergency situation. The SAPS and ambulance services were already on scene and most of the casualties had already been removed from the scene of emergency, hence the difficulty associated with the retrieval of the correct information.
The construction company officials’ statements were contradictory, making information collection a challenge. The scene was eventually managed and a proper handover to SAPS conducted.
Four floors that were still under construction as part of the extension of the shopping centre collapsed. It was reported that employees were busy pouring concrete using a crane when the whole structure suddenly caved in. The slabs and beams, pillars under construction suffered damages. The shopping centre was closed to the public during the reconstruction and such no further damages were incurred.
A civil engineer on site suspected failure of the bolted connectors joining the steel reinforcement beams and the concrete columns, as the possible cause of the structural collapse.
Source: Charles Mabaso, deputy chief: public information and liaison officer, City of Tshwane Emergency Services