South African investigators are trying to sort out what caused the collapse of a mall under construction Tuesday, an incident that killed one person and injured 29.
The collapse led to an all-night search involving rescue dogs and heavy equipment. Police Lt. Mandy Govender told The Associated Press that the Labor Department is investigating contractors involved in building the mall in Tongaat
, near the coastal city of Durban.
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Construction of the mall began six months ago and was set for completion in April, according to The Telegraph
. But there are reports that local authorities had obtained court orders to stop construction because of planning violations.
“When there is a court order, we think everybody will respect the law and would have stopped what they should have stopped because a court order has been issued against them,” Nomvuzo Shabalala, a deputy mayor in eThekwini, told South Africa’s eNCA rolling news channel, according to the Telegraph.
An executive with the company behind the construction, identified as Gralio, said “everything was above board,” according to the Telegraph, which attributed the comments to the local Mercury newspaper. The executive, Jay Singh, said that it is not uncommon for construction to begin before final plans are secured.
“Even if the plans had been passed this incident would still have happened because this was an engineering problem," Singh said. “It had nothing to do with the plans.”
The Independent wrote that if investigators determine safety regulations were violated,
the accident could damage the ruling African National Congress in next year’s planned elections “because of widespread perceptions of incompetence and corruption in local government.”
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