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Dozens trapped by rubble in South Africa mall collapse: reports

A roof at a South African shopping mall that was under construction collapsed on Tuesday, killing at least one person and injuring at least 26, police said.Fiona Mooneal, who witnessed the collapse from her home across a railway line from the construction site, told Reuters the building collapsed as though it had been dynamited. "It was just after 4:30 (local time).

A roof at a South African shopping mall that was under construction collapsed on Tuesday, killing at least one person and injuring at least 26, police said.

Fiona Mooneal, who witnessed the collapse from her home across a railway line from the construction site, told Reuters the building collapsed as though it had been dynamited. 

"It was just after 4:30 (local time). Suddenly, about 200 meters (about 650 feet) of concrete slab just collapsed all at the same time. The screams of the guys, above all of that mad noise, you could still hear them," she told Reuters. 

"It was like when you blow up a building, a bomb. That sound - it was terrible." 

It was unclear what caused the building to collapse.

Rescue teams using search dogs were combing the rubble seeking survivors who may be trapped.

"In all my years as a paramedic I have never seen anything like this," one rescue worker told Reuters. 

Initial reports suggested as many as 50 workers were trapped under the rubble, although officials later scaled down their estimates. 

"There are about 24 people who are at this stage unaccounted for. We're not sure whether they might still be trapped or whether some of them might have gone home," municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng told Reuters. 

The mall — in Tongaat, north of the coastal city of Durban — was under construction, ambulance company Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha told the South African Press Agency.

Botha told Reuters that at least 26 people had been taken to hospital with “massive traumatic injuries.”

Kwazulu-Natal Police spokesman Thulani Zwane told news site ENCA.com that a woman who was a construction worker at the site had died.

None of the reports could be independently confirmed by NBC News.

Reuters contributed to this report.