Tanzania quarry collapse kills 13

A cyclist rides through water following heavy rain in March 2008 near Arusha, northern Tanzania.  By Simon Maina (AFP/File)

A cyclist rides through water following heavy rain in March 2008 near Arusha, northern Tanzania. By Simon Maina (AFP/File)

ARUSHA, Tanzania (AFP) – At least 13 people were killed in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha when the sides of a quarry caved in, a local official said Tuesday.

“There are 13 dead but rescuers managed to save two people,” said Mulongo Magessa, governor of Arusha province, of the accident that took place late Monday morning, days after a building collapse killed 36 people in the east African nation’s commercial capital.

“One person remains in hospital, the other has been released,” Magessa added.

Those who died were believed to have been digging in the small quarry for rocks and sand for use at construction projects in Arusha.

Security forces and local volunteers pulled out the bodies of the victims on Monday, local media said.

Tanzania has been hit by heavy seasonal rains causing flash floods that weakened the sides of the quarry, which is understood to have been illegal.

Digging at the site was declared illegal in 2006 after a similar incident in which several people died.

Meanwhile, rescuers said they had ended the search in the port city of Dar es Salaam four days after the building collapse, saying the final number killed in that accident was 36.

“We have now called off the rescue operation,” the city’s commissioner Saidi Mecky Sadicky told reporters.

Two children were among the dead.

Local residents had turned out to supply rescuers with food, water and medication.

“I want to thank all those who participated in this exercise, the people of Dar es Salaam and Tanzania will forever be grateful,” Sadicky added.

Between 60 and 70 were initially thought to have been around the partially-built 16-storey building when it came crashing down on Friday morning in the Kisutu area of the coastal city.

Sadicky said investigations were continuing into the cause of the building collapse, and that police were holding eight people for questioning.

Dar es Salaam, a major port for east Africa and home to some four million people, is rapidly expanding, and is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, according to United Nations figures.

Construction projects crowd the city, including several high-rise developments, although the majority of people live in simple, informal housing.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete visited the scene of the disaster on Friday and Saturday, and later visited those injured as they recovered in hospital.

Chinese construction firms in the city were told by their embassy to lend their equipment to aid rescue effort, with Chinese workers at the site instructing operators of excavators and forklifts that were sifting through the rubble.

At least 18 people were rescued alive following the collapse.

In 2008, another building that collapsed in Dar es Salaam claimed at least four lives.