1 April 2013

Tanzania: Death Toll Reaches 30 As Survivor Recounts Ordeal

Photo: Tanzania Daily News/Mohamed Mambo
Tanzania's Defence Forces Director of Disaster Management Department, Lieutenant-General Sylvester Rioba updates President Jakaya Kikwete on the progress of rescue operations.

THE death toll in the collapse of a 16-storey building in Dar es Salaam on Good Friday has reached 30, as police in the city confirmed that 8 people have been arrested so far, while the National Housing Corporation will take care of burial costs of those who perished in the ill-fated building.

A survivor admitted to the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) has also recounted events on the fateful day when he was on the 15th floor of the building only to wake up in hospital.

Mr Selemani Said (26), a resident of Kigamboni, recounted the fall from the 15th floor, when President Jakaya Kikwete in the company of First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete visited four of the casualties admitted to MOI.

Mr Selemani is a construction worker and said he was preparing for work when the building started collapsing around him and at some point he was thrown out of a window. "That day we were supposed to spread concrete and we were many up on the 15th floor, getting ready to start work, when I noticed that the building was moving and in a matter of seconds, I was tumbling down with it.

The next think I know I woke in hospital," he narrated. According to the Director at MOI, Dr Cuthbert Mcharo, two of the articulating vertebrae in Selemani's spine have been fractured but gave assurance that the injuries have not affected the patient's legs.

Dr Mcharo said MOI received 6 patients from the collapsed building out of whom two were treated and discharged. Out of the remaining four patients admitted include two young children of Asian origin, approximately under 10 years old who suffered broken limbs and back injuries.

Dr Mcharo added that one other patient, Mr Yusuf Abdallah who is also admitted to Sewahaji ward together with Mr Said, suffered serious head injuries and is still in comatose. The president and his wife visited the patients to know how they were doing, promising that they will receive all needed medical treatment until they were fully recovered.

Earlier, Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr Suleiman Kova said 25 fatalities have been recovered, after three more bodies were recovered in the early hours of yesterday morning. In the late afternoon five more bodies were recovered bringing the total to 30.

He named the eight people in police custody over the incident as the owner of the building, Mr Raza Hussein Damji, the owner's son, Mr Ally Raza Damji, Engineer Ugare Salu, Municipal Engineer Goodluck Mbaga and Municipal Inspector Wilbroad Mugyabusi.

Others are the owner of Lucky Construction Company, contracted to construct the building, Eng Ibrahim Kisoki, who is also the Goba ward councillor in Kinondoni district, Consulting Engineer Zonazea Anange and a private consultant, Mr Mohamed Abudkadir working for the owners of the ill fated building.

Meanwhile, there are reports that some drivers assigned to take the debris from the collapsed building to Jangwani are selling it for 100,000/-. Mr Kova promised to follow up on the report, adding that it is an offence to do so as the debris would be used as evidence.

Building also under construction and owned by the same person of the illfated structure, he said that work on the building has been halted until inspection is done to determine if it has adhered to construction standards and requirements. However, unconfirmed reports note that the building might be demolished as it does not seem to be of required standard.

The Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Saidi Meck Sadiki, said the National House Corporation (NHC) will take care of all the cost of burying the bodies from the ill fated building, including buying caskets and shrouds.

He added that three other NHC buildings near the ill fated structure will be under observation and inspection will be carried out to ascertain if they will be habitable or demolished. "The buildings are old between 40 and 50 years, we want to be sure that they have not been affected by the collapse of the building, due to the tremours, because some of them have shown cracks," he explained.

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