Joy as son trapped in SA building collapse rescued

Delvin Safers with his son Zyar
Delvin Safers' family sent a photo of his son Zyar to keep his spirits up while he was trapped [Safers family]

A couple has shared their joy with the BBC after their son was rescued from under the rubble of a building that collapsed on Monday in the South African coastal city of George.

Delvin Safers is among 29 survivors who have been freed as rescue-and-search operations continue for a third day to find 39 people who are still unaccounted for.

Seven people have been confirmed dead, and their bodies have been retrieved.

The plight of Delvin, 29, caught the attention of South Africans as he sent heart-wrenching voice notes to his parents and girlfriend, telling them how much he loved them and expressing the fear that he would not come out alive.

His father, Dion Safers, told the BBC that he himself had been panicking, until a rescuer phoned late on Tuesday to say they had found Delvin.

This was thanks to a sniffer dog that started barking, alerting rescuers who then drilled a hole through the concrete until they could see his hand.

"They handed him chocolate, water, a mask and a pair of [protective] spectacles,” Dion added.

Delvin's mum, Delmarie, told the BBC that while he was trapped under the rubble, they sent him a picture of his two-year old boy, Zyar, to motivate him to stay positive.

"It worked. It really worked," she said.

In one of his voice notes, in the Afrikaans language, to his girlfriend Nicole, the trapped 29-year-old said: “My love, my phone is on 5% now. It’s been off. I only turned it on now to check it."

He could also be heard sobbing, and saying: "I just hope they [rescue teams] can get this done quickly because I’m not going to make it. I don’t have any energy. I’m tired, tired, tired.”

The five-storey apartment block collapsed while it was under construction in a city that is a popular tourist destination, along the scenic Garden Route in Western Cape province.

All those trapped under the rubble, including Delvin, were workers at the site.

Of the 29 survivors, six have life-threatening injuries and 16 are in a critical condition in hospital.

Delvin was badly bruised on his face, and all over his body.

He could not walk at first, but is now able to do so.

"He looked better. He has a smile on his face. When I saw him walk it was one of the greatest moments today," Delmarie said, after visiting him in hospital.

She added that "we are here to support all the other families - their grief is our grief".

The rescue operation is complex, and involves 200 people with sniffer dogs, heavy lifting equipment and removing concrete blocks and debris by hand.

It has now moved to the back of the site, to an underground car park.

Rescue teams say they are also dealing with collapsed voids that are difficult to reach.

Investigations are still under way to establish the cause of the building's collapse.

Dion said he was angry that a "brand new building just collapsed", causing deaths and injuries.

" We can’t believe it. People must be held responsible and someone must go to jail for that," he told the BBC.

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