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George building collapse: Trapped South African dad Delvin Safers rescued

Image source, Safers family

Legend, Delvin Safers’ family sent a photo of their son Zyar to keep his spirits up while he was stuck

  • Author, Shingai Nyoka and Ed Habershon
  • Role, BBC News
  • Report of George

A couple shared their joy with the BBC after their son was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building in the South African coastal town of George on Monday.

Delvin Safers is among 29 survivors who have been released as rescue and search operations continue for a third day to find 39 people still missing.

Seven people were confirmed dead and their bodies were found.

The plight of Delvin, 29, came to the attention of South Africans when he sent heartbreaking voice notes to his parents and girlfriend, telling them how much he loved them and expressing fear that he would not make it out of this alive.

His father, Dion Safers, told the BBC that he himself had panicked, until a rescue worker called him on Tuesday evening to tell him he had found Delvin.

That was thanks to a sniffer dog that started barking, alerting rescuers who then drilled a hole in the concrete until they could see Devin’s hand.

“They gave him chocolate, water, a mask and a pair of (protective) glasses,” Dion added.

Delvin’s mother, Delmarie, told the BBC that while he was trapped under the rubble, they sent him a photo of her two-year-old son, Zyar, to motivate him to stay positive.

“It worked. It really worked,” she said.

In one of his voice notes, in Afrikaans language, to his girlfriend Nicole, the trapped 29-year-old said: “My love, my phone is at 5% now. It’s off. I only turned it on now to check it.”

He could also be heard sobbing and saying: “I just hope they (rescue teams) can do this quickly because I won’t make it. I have no energy. I’m tired, tired, tired.” .”

The five-storey building collapsed while under construction in a popular tourist town along the scenic Garden Route in the Western Cape province.

Everyone trapped under the rubble, including Delvin, were construction workers.

Of the 29 survivors, six have life-threatening injuries and 16 are in critical condition in hospital.

Delvin had severe bruising to his face and all over his body.

At first he couldn’t walk, but now he can.

“He looked better. He has a smile on his face. When I saw him walking, it was one of the greatest moments of the day,” Delmarie said.

The rescue operation is complex and involves 200 people with sniffer dogs, heavy lifting equipment and manual removal of concrete blocks and debris.

It is now moved to the rear of the site, in an underground car park.

Rescue teams say they are also faced with collapsed voids that are difficult to reach.

Investigations are still underway to determine the cause of the building’s collapse.

Dion said he was angry because a “brand new building just collapsed,” causing deaths and injuries.

“We can’t believe it. People need to be held accountable and someone needs to go to prison for this,” he told the BBC.

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Image source, Getty Images/BBC

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