54 people have died after the roof of a local supermarket collapsed in the Latvian capital Riga. After several days of searching, the emergency services no longer think they will find any survivors amongst the rubble. The roof came down last Friday at 18h local time, at a very busy time for the store.
When the emergency services had already arrived, a second part of the roof caved in, killing three paramedics. Seven people are still missing, but presumed dead. The search will no longer focus on trying to find survivors, but to clear the debris with heavy machinery. Authorities have disclosed the names of the 54 casualties.
It remains unclear why the roof came down, but a recently designed winter garden on the roof may have been the trigger. The extra weight of the sand may have caused the tragedy, causing the roof to buckle. The supermarket had only been there two years, even winning an architecture prize.
The chain, Maxima, has stores in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Bulgaria and is the largest employer in the Baltics with nearly 30,000 employees. It approaches 500 stores, creating a turnover of more than 8 billion Latvian lats (12 billion euro).
(Translated and updated by Gary Peeters)