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article imageLatvia supermarket roof collapse kills at least 54

By Eileen Kersey     Nov 22, 2013 in World
Riga - A roof at a supermarket in Latvia collapsed Thursday and latest reports are that at least 54 people are dead. The cause of the collapse is being linked to work installing a roof-garden.
The Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital, Riga, on Thursday at around 6 p.m. local time. Early reports were that at least 21 people, including two firefighters, were killed and dozens more trapped following the collapse of the roof.
Later the death toll was revised up to 33 to include three firefighters. However BBC News reported Friday that the death toll had risen again to 45 and a short time later Reuters reported it had climbed to 47.
Saturday BBC News reports that the death toll is now 52 and later 54 with 10 families reporting missing relatives. "The Latvian president has described the collapse of a supermarket in the capital Riga as "murder", reports the BBC.
A number of firefighters also sustained injuries after a second collapse, shortly after they arrived on the scene. According to rescue services a 500sq m (5,300sq ft) area of roof collapsed.
The cause of the roof collapse is now part of a criminal investigation. Police are linking the collapse to the creation of a winter-garden on the roof involving heavy quantities of soil.
The Maxima store was full of customers when the accident happened. Workers on their way home were amongst shoppers. Electronic doors at the supermarket closed after the roof collapse trapping many people.
British pilot Paul Tribble, 27, was shopping in the store with his partner Elizabeth when the roof fell in:
I was taken down by shelving falling on me, which skimmed my shoulder and forced me to the ground but I was still able to move," he told BBC News.
"There were torrents of water coming down off the roof. We headed into the back of the supermarket, the aisles were covered in produce and concrete and people lying on the floor".
Friday Sky News reports :
Fire trucks and ambulances remain at the Maxima shopping centre in the capital Riga, and rescue workers are using mechanical cutters and cranes to clear debris from the single-storey building.
Friday morning Viktorija Sembele, a rescue service spokesperson, confirmed "In the past hours no survivors have been found."
The noise of heavy machinery, being used to move rubble, halts occasionally for relatives of those missing, believed trapped, to call out in the hope of locating their loved ones. Members of the military and sniffer dogs are aiding the search and rescue operation, which is turning into one of recovery as time moves on.
Sections of the roof that are still standing are not safe. This is hampering the rescue services as fear of further roof falls continue.
The supermarket was built in 2011. As for the roof garden, Sky News reports council official Juris Radzevics saying, "The project was submitted in accordance with all regulations but of course we will be looking at whether materials and works were carried out to the proper standards," Mr Radzevics told Latvian television."
The number of people trapped in the ruins of the supermarket is not known. 38 people sustained injuries when the roof collapsed.
People are still gathered at the scene Saturday waiting for news. They huddle around a makeshift shrine at the scene of the tragedy. Some are there to mourn but others await news of missing loved ones. Those still missing are presumed dead but rescue work continues.
One young man has been here since Thursday evening, staring into the ruins, waiting for news of his disabled sister who is presumed to be under the rubble.
And nearby a teenage girl told me that her 18-year-old cousin was killed. She had come to the supermarket to buy champagne to celebrate the one-year-anniversary of the relationship with her boyfriend.
BBC News.
The accident is the worst that Latvia has experienced since independence from the Soviet Republic in 1991.
The country begins a three-day period of mourning Saturday.
A general view shows Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Latvia s capital Riga  on Thursday ...
A general view shows Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Firefighters work near Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Riga November 21  2013. The store...
Firefighters work near Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Riga November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Emergency service medics take care of an injured person near Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roo...
Emergency service medics take care of an injured person near Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Riga November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
A general view shows Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Riga November 21  2013. The store w...
A general view shows Maxima supermarket with a collapsed roof in Riga November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Paramedics move the covered body of a firefighter out of the collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga. T...
Paramedics move the covered body of a firefighter out of the collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
People gather near the collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga November 21  2013. The store was packed ...
People gather near the collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
People gather near flowers placed near a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22  2013. Ma...
People gather near flowers placed near a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22, 2013. Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Paramedics use a stretcher to move a body from a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22  ...
Paramedics use a stretcher to move a body from a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22, 2013. Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia s capital Riga  on Thursday  November 21  2013. The stor...
Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Flowers are placed near a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22  2013. Maxima supermarke...
Flowers are placed near a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22, 2013. Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Flowers are placed near a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22  2013. Maxima supermarke...
Flowers are placed near a collapsed supermarket in capital Riga November 22, 2013. Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia s capital Riga  on Thursday  November 21  2013. The stor...
Maxima supermarket roof collapsed in Latvia's capital Riga, on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The store was packed with people doing shopping after work when the collapse occurred at around 6pm local time
With permission by Reuters / Ints Kalnins
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