building collapse in George, South Africa
A man raises his hand as rescue workers carry him to an ambulance after being rescued, having survived 116 hours after a deadly building collapse in George, South Africa May 11, 2024. Image Credit: Garden Route District Municipality/Reuters

Johannesburg: Rescuers and onlookers cheered and applauded Saturday as a survivor was rescued 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" provincial premier Alan Winde said on X.

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

Click here to get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

"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."

After several hours, the survivor was extricated and rushed to a hospital.

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

Thirty people have been rescued alive while thirty-eight 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.