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LATEST: 54 dead, Latvia observes day of mourning, rescuers carry out last ditch mission

  • 2013-11-24
  • By Rayyan Sabet-Parry, RIGA

A resident pays tributes to victims of the supermarket collapse tragedy (photo by Tor Bernhard Slaathaug for the Baltic Times)

Search and rescue operations continue at the collapsed Maxima supermarket in Riga on Sunday. Nov. 24.

At least fifty-four people are now confirmed dead with dozens more injured after a shopping center roof collapsed in the Zolitude neighborhood on Thursday evening, Nov. 21. 

The Health Ministry reports that 19 persons injured in the disaster are still undergoing treatment in various hospitals. A total of 39 had been admitted. Seven people are still believed to be trapped in the rubble, the interior ministry said. 

It's believed the collapse may have been caused by violations of construction rules. A Police investigation is currently ongoing.

Latvia has begun official days of mourning. Thousands have been paying tributes to the victims by laying candles, flowers an leaving messages of support. The incident has also led to a global outpouring of support from worldwide leaders including Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Marcis Liors Skadmanis, whose father and 23-year-old sister were killed in the collapse, said that the accident is a horrifying national tragedy that has brought pain, sorrow and anger to many families.

Skadmanis, who is chairman of the Latvian-British Chamber of Commerce, sends a positive message to one and all, to remember and keep the deceased in loving memory, "for the love they gave, and for their achievements, that they leave to us."

Meanwhile, special devices measuring the construction's current durability have been set up. This in wake of the sudden collapse last evening of the roof section at the store's rear. Luckily, rescuers were combing rubble in another part of the store, reports LETA.

Ilze Petersone-Godmane, Interior Ministry State Secretary, told press  that the search for seven missing persons is ongoing  whilst it's believed operations will be completed today.

Emergency services said the supermarket was now being razed to the ground.

Earlier, Latvian Presdient, Andris Berzins called the tragedy an act of 'mass murder'. A full of investigation is underway as to the cause of the collapse.