Skip to main content

Latvian supermarket roof collapse 'basically mass murder,' president says

By Susannah Cullinane, CNN
updated 12:43 PM EST, Sat November 23, 2013
People place flowers and light candles in front of the Maxima supermarket in Riga, Latvia, on Saturday, November 23, two days after dozens of people reportedly died in a roof collapse. Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs said authorities suspect building materials stored on the roof caused it to collapse Thursday. People place flowers and light candles in front of the Maxima supermarket in Riga, Latvia, on Saturday, November 23, two days after dozens of people reportedly died in a roof collapse. Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs said authorities suspect building materials stored on the roof caused it to collapse Thursday.
HIDE CAPTION
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
Deadly roof collapse in Latvia
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The death toll from a supermarket roof collapse in Latvia Thursday has risen to 53
  • NEW: Latvia's president has described the collapse as "basically mass murder" of defenseless citizens
  • President Andris Berzins has called for foreign independent experts to investigate
  • Russia's state media is reporting that two of its citizens are among those killed in Riga

(CNN) -- Latvia's president has described the deadly collapse of a supermarket roof in Riga as "basically mass murder" of defenseless citizens, local media reports.

At least 53 people died in Thursday's collapse at the Maxima supermarket, in the west of Latvia's capital, national news agency LETA said Saturday. It said rescue workers are continuing their hunt for survivors and still have about 150 squre meters to search.

President Andris Berzins had told Latvian television that "nature could not be blamed" for the collapse and that those involved needed to think about what they had done, so that action could be taken.

"This incident is basically the mass murder of a large number of defenseless civilians. We must act accordingly,'' Berzins said.

Berzins urged for a team of independent experts from abroad to be assembled to investigate the collapse. Latvia has declared three days mourning -- Saturday to Monday -- for victims of the collapse.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that two Russian citizens -- a man and a woman -- were among those killed.

Mall collapse kills at least four
Death toll rises at Latvia collapse

It said a second collapse had occurred after rescue workers arrived and a third took place Saturday, but that no rescuers were injured in the latest collapse.

LETA earlier quoted a State Fire and Rescue Service spokesman as saying rescuers had begun searching the "least stable" area of the site Saturday.

"The area is very dangerous and unstable, and the decision has been made to search the area with less men, so to prevent anymore collapses," the news agency said.

Three firefighters are among the dead. Latvia's Interior Ministry said their families would receive 50,000 LVL ($95,600) in compensation. Treatment for rescue workers injured in the operation would also be paid for, it said.

In an interview with CNN Friday, Rescue Service spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele declined to speculate on the cause of the collapse.

"There are a lot of versions, a lot of stories. The real cause of this tragic accident will be investigated by state police and other authorities once the rescue is finished," she said.

However, Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs earlier told CNN that authorities think building materials stored on the roof caused it to collapse.

The supermarket collapse is the Baltic state's deadliest accident since it won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, LETA said. Latvia's previous most deadly accident was a nursing home fire that killed 26 people in 2007.

Deadly South Africa building collapse investigated

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT