Tanzanians dig for survivors after building collapse

DAR ES SALAAM Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:38am EDT

1 of 7. An aerial view shows bystanders watching rescuers search for survivors amongst the rubble of a collapsed building in the Kariakoo district of central Dar es Salaam March 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Emmanuel Herman

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DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - A building under construction collapsed in the center of Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam on Friday and rescuers searched for survivors under the rubble, with conflicting reports about the number of dead.

A senior police officer initially told reporters 15 people were killed and two people were pulled out alive. Hours later, the mayor for central Dar es Salaam, Jerry Silaa, said two people were killed and 17 survivors had been found.

The building, in the Kariakoo district, was at least 12 storeys high. Witnesses said some cars were crushed in the collapse and people were using their hands to pull away masonry.

Rescue workers said they heard the voices of people trapped, possibly including boys who had been playing soccer nearby when the building collapsed. Some witnesses said construction workers may also have been trapped.

Tanzania's buoyant economy has fuelled a construction boom, and Kariakoo in particular has been a focus for building. The speed of construction has raised concerns over standards.

Senior government officials also gathered at the scene.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Writing by Edmund Blair in Nairobi; Editing by Pravin Char)

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