Hope Fades

November 24, 2013 7:06 AM

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With the number of dead now at 54, a search of the rubble is called off as a massive third section of roof crumbles.

The chances of finding any more survivors after the collapse of a supermarket in Latvia is "almost zero", officials have said.

Fifty-four deaths have now been confirmed since the roof of the Maxima store caved in in the capital Riga on Thursday.

Recovery efforts were due to begin on Sunday after the search was called off on Saturday evening, when a third section of the roof collapsed.

President Andris Berzins on Saturday called for the disaster to be "investigated at maximum speed", adding: "This case must be treated as the murder of many unprotected people.

"This is a case where we need to say clearly that an enormous number of defenceless people were killed, and that's how we should proceed."

It was the worst accident in the Baltic country since it regained independence in 1991. The government has declared three days of mourning and thousands of floral tributes and candles have been placed at the scene.

Antons Ryakhin said "about 100 people" had been inside the building with him.

The 19-year-old said: "I was queuing at the cash desk when the roof suddenly caved in. It all happened within a few seconds.

"It was dark but still light enough to see the exit. I ran out. The doors were open, but a lot of rubble fell in front of them - I think that's why some people couldn't get through."

Preliminary reports indicate the roof caved in due to either faulty construction or building activities on the roof, where workers were creating a garden area and children's playground for a new high-rise residential building adjacent to the supermarket.

Pictures show that a large amount of building materials, including bags of soil, were left in areas of the roof that, according to Riga city officials, could have been vulnerable to heavy loads.

The central government, Riga's city council and the Maxima retailer have promised compensation to victims, while charities are also raising cash.

Source: news.sky.com

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