Poor equipment hampered efforts to rescue more than 60 people believed to be trapped under the rubble, Dar es Salaam commissioner Said Siddiq said by telephone. At least 17 people, three seriously injured, were pulled out of the debris Friday.
Officials said construction work on the building, located on one of the busiest streets in Tanzania's commercial center, was about to be completed and that the structure did not have tenants. Most of the people caught in the collapse of the 12-story building were laborers as well as those passing by or loitering nearby. Some witnesses said dozens of construction workers and food vendors were in the building when it collapsed Friday morning and that scores of children were playing soccer in a nearby playground. Others said more than 200 casual laborers and engineers worked on the building regularly.
Siddiq said three engineers who worked on the building had been taken into custody for questioning. In recent years building collapses have become frequent in East African countries as some property developers bypass regulations to cut costs.
Dar es Salaam police have halted work on a 16-story building that was being built adjacent to the one that collapsed, saying the construction project needs to be reviewed. Both buildings have the same owner.