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Building collapse in Tel Aviv kills two, five trapped

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The collapse of a building in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv killed at least two people and injured 23 others Monday, as rescuers tried to reach five people believed trapped under the rubble.

[TEL AVIV] The collapse of a building in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv killed at least two people and injured 23 others Monday, as rescuers tried to reach five people believed trapped under the rubble.

The accident occurred at a multi-floor underground car park at a construction site that was filled with twisted metal, dirt and rubble after the collapse.

Surveillance video at the time of the collapse showed the area quickly enveloped by thick clouds of dirt and rubble.

Medics could be seen walking across rubble as they carried a wounded person away on a stretcher.

Other medics with stretchers as well as ambulances waited nearby on standby. Search-and-rescue dogs were also at the scene.

Police confirmed at least two killed and 23 wounded, while the army said it was searching for five people who were still trapped under the rubble.

"Rescue forces and (Israeli) soldiers have extracted five civilians from the building which collapsed in Tel Aviv earlier today," the army said in a statement.

"The forces are operating to extract five additional trapped civilians," it said, adding that more than 300 soldiers from the search-and-rescue battalion were taking part in the operation.

Avi Marcus, a medic with United Hatzalah rescue service who arrived shortly after the collapse, told AFP at the scene that "it is about four to five stories down under the surface."

"It was only construction workers. There weren't any other people. I provided medical care to some of the injured people... They say some movement shook the building," he said.

Palestinian labour minister Mamoun Abu Shahla said the dead and wounded may have included Palestinians, but Israeli had not commented.

Some 58,000 Palestinians hold permits to work in Israel, and thousands more cross illegally for jobs.

United Hatzalah said "firefighters and rescue teams are working to extricate" those believed missing.

"It appeared to me that the roof of a parking garage had collapsed in the building site," United Hatzalah quoted another of its medics as saying.

"While members of our ambu-cycle unit who arrived first on scene were treating the injured, reports came in of other people who were unaccounted for and likely still trapped inside."

The collapse occurred in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal neighbourhood at the construction site that appeared to be around half-finished.

Ramat Hahayal, an upmarket neighbourhood on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, is home to a number of high-tech offices in Israel's booming technology industry, based around the city of more than 400,000 people.

The cause of the collapse was not yet clear.

The Israel-based Africa Israel firm won the tender for the project, the Tel Aviv mayor's office said.

Israel has seen an unusually high number of construction accidents in comparison to the developed world.

Haaretz newspaper reported in May that 480 people were killed in construction accidents between 2000 and 2015.

The survey placed Israel third from the bottom in a list that included the United States and 20 European nations, ahead of Cyprus and Portugal, Haaretz said, citing a report from the economy ministry and National Insurance Institute.

The economy ministry said in response that it would focus on enforcing construction industry regulations.

AFP