Latvia supermarket roof collapse: Riga death toll reaches 52

Rescue workers continue to search the rubble after large sections of the store in Riga suddenly gave way during the evening rush.

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The Independent Online

At least 52 people have died, including three fire fighters, after the roof of a supermarket collapsed during the evening shopping rush in Riga, Latvia on Thursday, according to police.

The reason for the collapse is currently not known, the rescue service has said, it has however been noted that a winter garden was being built on the roof.

The country’s Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis ruled out natural disaster and terrorism as possible causes and said that it was likely construction regulations had been violated.

“It is clear that there has been a problem with fulfilment of construction requirements,” he told Latvian TV by telephone.

38 injured people have been hospitalised, including 10 firefighters, a fire and rescue service spokesperson said.

The wreckage of the supermarket, estimated to be 500 square meters in size, is still being cleared. The rescue service said work was proceeding slowly as the rubble and remaining sections of roof were unstable and could collapse.

Firefighters were killed and injured when large sections of roof fell on them soon after they arrived on the scene.

A spokesman for the Maxima supermarket said five of its employees had been injured, with two taken to hospital, but three had not yet been found.

Early on Friday, cranes were working to lift and take off concrete blocks which are hampering rescue efforts, state fire and rescue service chief Oskars Abolins said.

“As we have to search all the rubble and the whole construction, rescue work might continue for another day,” he said.