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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Security concerns delay search of Riga store wreckage

A survey was carried out to establish how safe the building is. Seven people remain unaccounted for.

Policemen stand near a collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga
Policemen stand near a collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga
Image: AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

LATVIAN OFFICIALS HAVE delayed a search for victims of the supermarket roof collapse that killed at least 54 people, citing safety concerns.

Interior Minstry official Ilze Petersone-Godmane told reporters:

Surveys have been carried out overnight to establish the safety of the building, but we must wait until we have full results before we can resume work.

Petersone-Godmane added that controlled demolitions of unstable areas could go ahead in the afternoon.

Rescue crews had appeared to be winding down their search late last night when a third section of roof collapsed forcing a halt to work for reasons of safety.

Emergency medical services chief Armands Plorins said today the chances of finding anyone alive were “practically speaking, zero.”

President Andris Berzins has demanded a swift and thorough investigation of what he said was the “mass murder of defenceless people”.

Police said that seven of 13 people who had earlier been reported missing remain unaccounted for.

Part of the roof at the two-year old Maxima supermarket crashed down during peak shopping hours on Thursday. A second collapse killed three firefighters who were among rescue teams already inside the building.

Speculation

Speculation about the cause of the disaster has centred on the construction of a rooftop garden and on the possibility that building regulations may have been bent as the structure was only two years old.

The small Baltic nation of two million began a three-day mourning period yesterday as it struggled to come to terms with its worst disaster since independence in 1991.

Latvians also marked the annual All Souls feast of the dead today by lighting candles at the graves of relatives.

Flags across the country were flown with a black sash of mourning and a minute’s silence is planned for Monday.

Read: Latvia probes store disaster as hopes dim of finding survivors>

Read: Death toll in Latvia supermarket roof collapse doubles>

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