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Men rescued under collapsed sandbank

Four Durban construction workers narrowly escaped death on Friday after a bank of sand collapsed, trapping them in a 4m trench. They were buried for at least five minutes.

The men, from the F Verbaan construction team were digging a new swimming pool at Durban Girls College. Their rescue took an hour.

“It’s a miracle that they are alive,” said the school’s principal, Thomas Hagspihl. “God really looks after this school.” The incident happened at about 1pm, as the pupils were leaving for the day. Hagspihl said none of the girls were in danger.

The men, who sustained serious injuries, were digging a plumber’s trench when the heap of sand collapsed on them. The school is building a new swimming pool that is expected to be finished in mid-November.

Work had to be halted and emergency workers called.

Netcare 911 spokeswoman Santi Steinmann said when paramedics arrived they found four men were injured, three seriously so. “One man was trapped under sand and our rescue unit and members from the fire department freed him,” she said.

The men’s bodies were completely covered in sand for at least five minutes, said a construction worker on site. The worker said the sand bank was not supported by beams and scaffolding. “It was an accident waiting to happen,” said the worker.

When approached for comment on site, two of the company’s managers became hostile, threatening to “smash” the photographer’s camera.


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