Death Toll in Supermarket Roof Collapse in Latvia's Riga Climbs to 26

World | November 22, 2013, Friday // 11:38|  views

A general view of rescue workers at the Maxima supermarket, after its roof collapsed in Riga, Latvia, late 21 November 2013. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The death toll in the supermarket roof collapse in the Latvian capital Riga has reached 26 and many are still trapped inside.

The data comes from Latvia's State Fire and Rescue Services, cited by Russian ITAR-TASS.

It was reported earlier that 6 died, and the number of fatalities was later changed to 18.

According to the most recent update – 36 have sustained injuries, while 28 of them have been listed in the hospital.

Three of those killed were emergency workers, who were helping people trapped, when more of the roof came down – 20 minutes after the initial collapse. The cause of the collapse is unclear although reports, quoted by the BBC, say a garden was being constructed on the roof at the time and the weight of the soil could be a contributing factor.

Rescue efforts continued through the night, involving several hundred firemen, police and emergency medical teams, and might last for another 24 hours.

Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has announced that a criminal investigation in violating construction norms has begun.

The area has been sealed. The State Blood Transfusion Center has urged Latvians to donate blood for the injured.

The initial collapse happened just before 6 pm local time Thursday, when the store was busy with customers. In addition to the roof, walls and windows of the single-story concrete and glass building also crumbled.

TV footage showed rescue workers using mechanical cutters to clear debris from. Cranes were brought in to remove slabs of concrete. More than 60 soldiers are helping the rescue effort, the army, cited by The BBC, said on its official Twitter feed.

According to witnesses, customers tried to run out, but the supermarket's electronic doors closed, trapping them inside.

The supermarket, which opened in 2011, is part of the Maxima retail chain.

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Tags: collapse, roof, collapsed, supermarket, Riga, Maxima retail chain, Latvia, construction norms, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, death toll


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