At least 10 construction workers from Pakistan and one from India were killed in the collapse of a convention center being built in Saudi Arabia, an Asian diplomatic source said Tuesday.
The building, at a university in Qassim northwest of the capital Riyadh, collapsed on Monday. The bodies of six Pakistanis had been pulled from the rubble and rescuers were trying to free the bodies of two more, the diplomatic source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat said three other people injured in the collapse had also died, including two more Pakistanis and an Indian.
Mohammed Abdullah Abdul Aziz, a spokesman for the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, gave a different toll, saying seven people had died. He did not give the nationalities of the victims.
Police sniffer dogs and fire department cameras were assisting in the search for about two other workers believed still trapped under the concrete.
Abdul Aziz said ambulances transported a total of 10 injured to hospitals, while 20 others were less seriously hurt.
Manazel Construction, the company working on the project, issued a statement saying nine people died when a section of the second-floor roof collapsed. “The incident occurred while concrete was being poured to form the roof. At the time of the partial collapse, 90 percent of the concrete had been poured. We are continuing our investigation to understand the exact causes of the accident and will make the results public as soon as it is completed,” the company said.
The diplomatic source said he understood that steel mesh had been laid and foundation columns were in place. “When they started pouring concrete, that was when the load was too much” for the columns, he said.
Pictures from the scene showed a sprawling but low-level construction site, where many steel support rods had collapsed along with other parts of the structure inside a wide circular area.
Millions of foreign workers from impoverished countries in Asia are employed at a variety of jobs in Saudi Arabia, including construction work. The diplomatic source said Egyptians and Bangladeshis also worked on the site.