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Five dead and three seriously injured after collapse on construction site in Italy


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Five workers have been killed and three are seriously injured after part of a building collapsed on a construction site in Italy.

Around eight workers were buried under rubble after a concrete beam and slabs collapsed at the site of a new supermarket in Florence on Friday morning.

On Saturday, the president of the Tuscany region, which comprises Florence, confirmed that the body of a fifth person had been retrieved after rescue teams continued the “complex” operation to get to those trapped under the debris.

Italian media said the five victims were an Italian man, three Moroccans and a Tunisian.

Three others who were pulled from the debris were taken to hospital in serious but not life-threatening conditions.

Rescue workers continued the ‘complex’ operation to reach the trapped workers today. Pic: Vigili del Fuoco

Officials said after preliminary assessments of the site, the accident happened due to a “structural collapse” of the concrete beam, which may have been caused by a defect in the way it was made.

Florence prosecutors have ordered an investigation into the collapse.

Pope Francis was joined by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and other Italian officials in expressing grief for the deaths, and on Saturday called for “more efforts from those responsible for protecting workers”.

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Marina Caprotti, president of supermarket chain Esselunga, also sent her condolences. She said the construction work for the new shop was outsourced to a third party.

Firefighters arrive at the scene of an accident at a construction site in Florence, Italy, Friday Feb. 16, 2024. An accident at a supermarket construction site in the Italian city of Florence on Friday killed at least one worker and left four others missing, officials said. (Marco Bucco/LaPresse via AP)
Unions have set a two-day strike in reaction to the deaths. Pic: AP

Accidents on work sites are fairly common in Italy, with 601 workplace deaths across the country in 2021 and 435 reported in 2022, the second-highest figure in the European Union after France, according to statistics agency Eurostat.

In 2023, there were 1,000 deaths at work, according to Maurizio Landini, leader of Italy’s CGIL union.

It comes as CGIL and another of Italy’s largest unions, UIL, called a two-hour strike set for 21 February blaming the excessive use of subcontracting for lowering wages, safety, training and working conditions on building sites.

“We are tired of hearing words of condolence. Work and safety must be at the centre of political attention to implement concrete solutions, starting from the places most at risk such as construction sites,” the unions said.

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