The number of people killed when the roof of a shopping mall came crashing down in Riga, the capital of Latvia, has risen to 45, according to the latest figures posted on the Web site Rus.delfi. lv.
Latvian authorities believe there are still people trapped under the ruins of the Maxima shopping mall, located in the Solitude residential district and whose roof caved in Thursday night, the reason it is feared the number of victims may increase.
Among the fatalities were at least three members of the rescue teams, Interior Ministry spokesperson Daiga Holma told Latvian media.
Some 30 people were admitted to hospitals with different degrees of injuries that incuded severe encephalo-cranial and spinal column traumas.
A reporter at the scene speaking live on a local radio station said he had heard cries from under the rubble.
"The area being covered by the rescue work is extremely extensive, and the work of removing the rubble is being done very slowly and carefully, because collapsed structures are like a house of cards. Removing one cement block can cause others to come crashing down," emergency management services spokesperson Inga Vetere said on Latvian television.
The mall, built less than two years ago, partially collapsed at least twice Thursday night and it was in the second cave-in that members of the rescue teams were killed after reaching the scene of the tragedy.
The head of the state emergency management office, Normunds Plegermanis, said in the early hours Friday that the structure was still undergoing collapses every so often.
Riga municipal authorities indicated landscaping works on the rooftop of the shopping mall as a probable cause of the collapse, a possibility being investigated by police but which has been categorically ruled out by the construction company. EFE