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Rescuers dig for survivors after 12-story building collapses in Tanzania

Rescuers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building in the Kariakoo district of central Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Friday.
Rescuers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building in the Kariakoo district of central Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Friday.Emmanuel Herman / Reuters

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- A building under construction collapsed in the center of Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam on Friday and rescuers searched for survivors under the rubble, with conflicting reports about the number of dead.

A senior police officer initially told reporters 15 people were killed and two people were pulled out alive. Hours later, the mayor for central Dar es Salaam, Jerry Silaa, said two people were killed and 17 survivors had been found.

An aerial view shows bystanders watching rescuers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building in Tanzania's commercial capital on Friday.Emmanuel Herman / Reuters

The building, in the Kariakoo district, was at least 12 stories high. Witnesses said some cars were crushed in the collapse and people were using their hands to pull away masonry.

Rescue workers said they heard the voices of people trapped, possibly including boys who had been playing soccer nearby when the building collapsed. Some witnesses said construction workers may also have been trapped.

Tanzania's buoyant economy has fuelled a construction boom, and Kariakoo in particular has been a focus for building. The speed of construction has raised concerns over standards.

Senior government officials also gathered at the scene.