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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 19 September, 2014

Firefighter survives six-storey fall

South African emergency worker is trapped in scorching shaft for three hours but emerges with just a bruised hip.

Image: firefighters via Shutterstock

A SOUTH AFRICAN firefighter survived a six-storey fall into a disused lift shaft engulfed in flames while trying to rescue a homeless man.

Malusi Mncube, who works for the Durban fire department emerged from the 18-metre (59 feet) hole, which also had two metal spikes, with only a bruised hip, after he was saved by colleagues.

“The shaft was dark and there was smoke…it’s incredible that he survived and suffered only minor injuries,” said Max Magnussen, the acting fire chief in the eastern port city.

Mncube spent three hours inside the scorching shaft with the body of a homeless man he was trying to rescue. The man died of injuries from the fall and smoke inhalation.

Mncube’s colleagues were amazed he survived.

Justin Bateman told Witness newspaper:

I’m gobsmacked, he fell six storeys onto a bed of burning debris in a sealed concrete tube, and he’s basically okay.

I could feel the heat standing six floors above.

Bateman said Mncube crashed on a pile of burning garbage, narrowly missing two sharp metal poles.

“If he didn’t happen to have breathing apparatus with him, he would not have survived 10 minutes down there – the smoke was trapped thick in that tube,” he added.

- © AFP, 2013

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