Riga roof collapse: ‘Treat deaths of 52 as murder’

Officials say soil being used to create a winter garden on its flat roof could have caused it to cave in. Picture: AP
Officials say soil being used to create a winter garden on its flat roof could have caused it to cave in. Picture: AP
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LATVIA’S president has ­described the collapse of a ­supermarket, which killed 52 people in the capital Riga, as “murder”.

Andris Berzins said ordinary people had died as a result of the incident and that should be the basis for the official investigation into the disaster.

Yesterday it emerged ten people were still missing following the collapse of the Maxima store on Thursday. ­Officials say soil being used to create a winter garden on its flat roof could have caused it to cave in.

Officials described it as the worst disaster since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991. The Baltic state began three days of national mourning yesterday.

Berzins told state television: “This case must be treated as mass murder. This is a case where we need to say clearly that an enormous number of defenceless people were killed, and that’s how we should proceed.”

More than 40 people were injured in the incident, including 13 firefighters, and 23 people remain in hospital.

At least three firefighters were killed.

Rescue service spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele said some 300 square metres of ruin, a sixth of the total damaged area, was still being searched.

Police at one point urged people whose relatives were missing to call their mobile phones to help emergency services ­locate anyone still trapped under the ­rubble.