Voice notes helped save a man trapped in George building collapse

Delvin Safers, a 29-year-old electrician trapped in the rubble of the George building collapse, was rescued by communicating with those above ground using voice notes, according to an Eyewitness News report.

Rescuers managed to locate Safers by asking him to make noise underground, which he managed by banging his arms against metal in the rubble surrounding him.

“They told me about making sounds. I’m banging against some metal, but my arms are sore. It’s difficult to hit with my sore arms, but I’ll continue,” he said in a voice note to his family, translated from Afrikaans.

He was pulled out of the rubble in the late afternoon on Tuesday, 7 May 2024. However, in some voice notes, Safers said he didn’t think he would make it.

Battling with a dying battery, he told his family he was in extreme pain and unable to move.

“My phone is on 5% now. It was off all this time, I’ve just switched it on to check,” said Safers.

“I’m in extreme pain. My legs are numb. My back is sore, and I can’t move my arms properly.”

He said the rescue teams told him they were busy removing rubble near his location.

“They’re probably going to come drill from underneath. I hope they can just hurry up, I’m not going to make it,” said Safers. “I don’t have the strength anymore I’m tired.”

He was rescued moments later.

Safers was working on the third floor of the building when it collapsed on Monday, 6 May, trapping construction workers on site.

According to an update from the George Municipality, 62 people have been pulled from the rubble, with 12 being admitted to hospital. The death toll has risen to 33.

It is estimated that 81 people were on site when the building collapsed, leaving 19 still unaccounted for.

It is unclear why the building collapsed, and Western Cape authorities are investigating the cause.

A video containing the voice notes Safers sent to his family, posted by Eyewitness News, is embedded below.

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Voice notes helped save a man trapped in George building collapse