Nine bodies pulled from collapsed Jordan building
Emergency crews racing against the clock to find survivors of a collapsed building in Jordan's capital pulled three more bodies from the rubble Wednesday, bringing the death toll to nine, authorities said.
Hundreds of rescuers have been scouring the site of the four-storey residential building in Jabal al-Weibdeh, one of Amman's oldest neighbourhoods, since it toppled over on Tuesday.
Rescue teams pulled three bodies from under the rubble on Wednesday evening, a police statement said, raising the overall death toll to nine.
They were still working "in full force to reach the remaining trapped people", it added.
Among the 16 people injured in the tragedy were a four-month-old baby and a 45-year-old man extracted by the rescuers, a security official who did not wish to be named told AFP.
Government spokesman Faisal Shboul described the operation to find the missing as difficult.
"The terrain is rough, the buildings are close to each other and the corridors are narrow, which makes the search difficult," Shboul said.
King Abdullah II arrived in Amman from a trip to France and headed to the kingdom's crisis centre to follow the rescue efforts, according to state television.
Jordan's public prosecutor Hassan al-Abdallat ordered the arrest of three people as part of the investigation into the accident, the state news agency Petra reported.
The trio were said to the building's manager as well as two other people involved in maintenance work that was supposed to have been carried out on the structure, Petra added.
Anxious relatives waited at the disaster site in downtown Amman where emergency services, aided by sniffer dogs, were working to dig out any survivors from the debris of the building.
According to an eyewitness who asked not to be identified, rescue workers, some toiling by hand, had been able to communicate with at least three trapped people.
The head of the civil defence service, Hatem Jaber, said more than 350 emergency workers had taken part in the search and rescue operation.
Rescue teams "will not rest" until all have been accounted for, he said.
Jaber nonetheless refused to offer an estimate of the number of people still trapped, after Shboul had earlier put the number at 10.
"There is no precise number for those trapped," Jaber said, adding that "a man who we got out thought his daughter was trapped under the rubble then later discovered she was outside the building".
King Abdullah had earlier pointed to the "importance of providing all necessities for those harmed... and increasing efforts to mitigate the losses from the collapse".
The site was cordoned off Wednesday morning and police stopped the public from approaching it to avoid hampering the operation, an AFP correspondent said.
The disaster site is in the capital's central Jabal al-Weibdeh district, known for its vibrant cultural life and home to a large number of expatriates.
Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh and several government ministers inspected the site Tuesday.
Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister Tawfiq Kreishan had told state television that "among the reasons for the collapse of the building is that it is old and dilapidated".