Third critical bridge collapse victim still alive - Tau

Mpho Raborife and Adam Wakefield, News24

Johannesburg - Reports that a third person was killed following the collapse of scaffolding for a bridge under construction over the M1 highway were untrue, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau said on Thursday.

"Fortunately, we have only had two fatalities. The third patient did not pass on, which is a great relief," Tau told reporters at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

Out of those injured in Wednesday afternoon's collapse, three critically injured people were taken to Charlotte Maxeke and another three were taken to Milpark hospital.

Charlotte Maxeke head of trauma Steve Moeng said two men and a woman were in the intensive care unit. The men were on ventilation while the woman was not. However, she was being closely monitored.

One of the two men only turned 21 on Saturday, his mother told News24. "Only God knows why that happened yesterday. Let us not point any fingers."

Earlier on Thursday morning, there was confusion regarding the number of people killed in the collapse.

Tau's spokesperson Phindile Chauke told News24 the city had received a report of a third death following the collapse over the highway by Grayston Drive near the Sandton central business district (CBD).

"We have received a report a third person has died, but once we complete the site inspection, we will be going to hospital to confirm," Chauke said at the time.

The city's emergency management services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi, though, told News24 only two people had died with the third person in a critical condition in hospital.

The number of injured remained at 21.

At the time, Chauke said around 80% of the debris had been cleared by 08:15 with the city anticipating the highway to be clear for afternoon peak traffic.

Traffic mayhem

The M1 south has been closed from the Buccleuch interchange where the N1, N3 and M1 meet, with traffic diverted down the two national highways. The city warned of heavy traffic pressure, especially from Fourways, Linbro Park and Midrand.

The M1 north has been closed from the Athol Oaklands off-ramp with traffic diverted on to arterial and surrounding roads.

The concrete Grayston bridge remained open to traffic to cross over the highway. Pointsmen were deployed at the Rivonia N1 off-ramp and around the Sandton CBD to help manage the expected heavy traffic.

Tau said the city had made available free bus services on Thursday via the Gautrain buses, Metrobus and Putco, and had increased capacity on the Gautrain to help alleviate traffic.

On Wednesday, construction company Murray & Roberts, responsible for the construction of the scaffolding, said in a statement there was still no clarity on the cause. Its directors and CEO had gone to the scene with the immediate priority ensuring those affected were taken care of.

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Pravin Gordhan was also understood to be going to the collapse site.