'Miracle' survivor found 5 days after S.Africa building collapse

The building under construction crumbled on Monday when an 81-strong crew were on site (Willie van Tonder)
The building under construction crumbled on Monday when an 81-strong crew were on site (Willie van Tonder)

Rescuers and onlookers cheered and applauded Saturday as a survivor emerged after 116 hours from underneath the rubble of a collapsed building in South Africa, with the tragedy having killed at least 13.

"It is a miracle that we have all been hoping for," Western Cape provincial premier Alan Winde said on X, formerly Twitter.

An apartment block under construction in the southern city of George crumbled Monday afternoon while a crew of 81 were on site.

In a video shared by the municipality, Gabriel Guambe said: "I'm okay now, I'm okay now, everything is okay. Thank you, God bless you guys."

"Mr. Guambe is recovering well... having remarkably sustained only minor injuries," authorities said in a statement, adding that he was in "good spirits".

The 32-year-old construction worker was located by rescuers who heard a moan from under the rubble. He was only pulled out hours after being initially found.

"When we went down to the side of the slab we had uncovered, we heard somebody inside and we stopped all the heavy operations," Colin Deiner, head of rescue operations, told reporters.

Rescuers then called out to the survivor and he spoke back, Deiner said.

"He indicated to us that he's got weight on his legs, and we're very concerned about that after such a long period of time."

Rescue teams have been working against time ever since the structure came crashing down.

Twenty-nine people have been rescued alive while thirty-nine remained unaccounted for.

Winde said a "difficult" identification process was underway and that police were using fingerprints, DNA testing and photographs.

Construction plans for a 42-unit apartment block had been approved by the city in July.

The reasons for the collapse are still unknown.

zam/imm