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Latvia collapse: Latvian supermarket collapses, death toll nearing 50

An overhead view of the rescue operation of a collapsed supermarket in Latvia's capital of Riga.

The collapse of a busy supermarket in Latvia has pushed a rising death toll to 47, reports CNN on Friday. The Baltic state disaster, its worst in decades, occurred late Thursday in the Latvian capital of Riga, trapping hundreds of shoppers under slabs of concrete.

Rescue workers continue to pull bodies today from the wreckage as cranes have been brought in to remove the largest of the debris chunks. The Maxima store occupied 5,000 square feet. Officials are investigating, but believe the store collapsed on itself under the weight of a garden center that was being built on the roof of the building.

Rescue personnel remain standing by, but no more survivors have been found since early Friday. Based on information from the public and nearby security cameras, Latvian public television has said nearly 40 individuals could yet be trapped inside.

“In the past hours, no survivors have been found,” Viktorija Sembele, a rescue service spokeswoman, said Friday morning.

“Every hour, air temperature, high air moisture – they are factors that reduce possibility to find some survivor. But, of course, hope always remains,” said Armands Plorins, chief of Latvia’s emergency ambulance services.

The prayerfully hopeful gather near the site, awaiting news of their relatives, friends and loved ones. Others arrived with candles and flowers, ready to give comfort.

“I have a wife there. There is no information about her, whether she is dead or alive. Wherever I call, there is no information,” Igor Umanov said.

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