x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 February 2018

Saudi building collapse kills 10 Pakistanis, 1 Indian: diplomat

The civil defence said the incident took place on the campus of Al Qassim University in the city of Buraydah on Monday.

RIYADH // A convention centre under construction in Saudi Arabia collapsed, killing at least 11 construction workers, an Asian diplomatic source said on Tuesday.

The civil defence said the incident took place on the campus of Al Qassim University in the city of Buraydah on Monday.

The bodies of six Pakistanis had been pulled from the rubble and rescuers were trying to free the bodies of two more, the diplomat said speaking on condition of anonymity.

The diplomatic source said three other people wounded in the collapse — two Pakistanis and an Indian — had also died.

A spokesman for the Saudi Red Crescent Authority gave a different toll, saying six people had died.

Ashraf Shiha, consul at Egypt’s embassy in Saudi Arabia, said that an Egyptian engineer is among the dead.

Sniffer dogs were assisting in the search for up to six other workers believed still trapped under the concrete.

The diplomatic source said he understood that steel mesh had been laid and foundation columns were in place.

“When they started pouring concrete, that was when the load was too much” for the columns, he said.

The civil defence said some 50 workers were at the site at the time of the accident, without disclosing their nationalities or elaborating on their status. Most of the kingdom’s labourers hail from the subcontinent.

Local government news websites reported that air medical services, ambulances, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, civil defence authorities and security teams were taking part in the rescue operation. The cement and steel roof that collapsed was part of a large conference centre being built.

Prince Faisal bin Meshaal, the governor of Al Qassim province where the university is located, visited the site of the collapse. Buraydah, the provincial capital, is about 360 kilometres north-west of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh.

The governor ordered a committee to investigate the incident comprising of representatives from his office, the university and the region’s civil defence authorities.

* Agence France-Presse, Associated Press