Tanzania building collapse kills 18, dozens trapped (UPDATES)


Girls at Mtitu Secondary School in the Kilolo district, approximately 500 kilometers southwest of the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, on Sept. 1, 2008.



At least 18 people are dead and dozens have been injured after a building collapsed in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam Friday.

Reports initially pegged the death toll between three and five but slow rescue efforts have meant many of those trapped have died.

The collapse occurred on one of the busiest streets in the capital.

It is believed that about 60 people remain trapped under the rubble.

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The building, which was under construction, collapsed around 8:45 a.m. local time in Dar es Salaam's Kariakoo business district.

"I thought there was an earthquake and then I heard screaming. The whole building fell on itself," eyewitness Musa Mohamed told Agence France-Presse.

Most of the people injured were passing by the building, the Associated Press reported. Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Saidi Mecky Sadiky said up to 60 people were in the area of the building when it collapsed.

Bulldozers are being used to remove rubble as a large crowd watches. Rescue workers and armed police officers are also at the scene.

There are reports that those trapped are making phone calls to relatives and friends.

"There are several people trapped inside the building," Hamisi Mgosi, a trader in Kariakoo, told Reuters. "A boy called his father through his cellphone from inside the collapsed building and told him he can't breathe."

According to Reuters, Tanzania's growing economy has caused a construction boom, and there is concern that some quickly-erected buildings don't meet safety standards.