Race to find survivors as dozens of people still missing in Lagos collapse

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LAGOS-Agence France-Presse

A skyscraper under construction collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, on November 1, killing at least four people and dozens more fearful of being trapped in the rubble.

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A yellow shovel pushed back concrete slabs to search the wreckage of the 21-story building in the affluent residential and business district of Ikoyi in Lagos, AFP correspondents said at the scene.

Rescue officials said many workers were trapped inside the building when it collapsed, although they could not confirm the number of people trapped inside.

Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said four people had been rescued so far and four bodies recovered from the site.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu called for calm on Monday evening, as rescue efforts continued after dark.
Emergency services are “there, fighting to save the lives of people under the rubble,” Gbenga Omotoso, spokesman for the governor, said in a statement.

Wisdom John, 28, a bricklayer, said he escaped with only a few cuts because he was on the ground floor when the building collapsed into a concrete pile, his floors stuck in a sandwich.

“There were over 50 working today and the manager too,” he said, sitting in an ambulance receiving treatment. “We just ran out.”

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The Ikoyi area is one of the wealthiest residential and business districts of Lagos, Nigeria’s large, densely populated commercial city.

Building collapses are common in Lagos and other parts of Africa’s most populous country due to substandard materials, neglect and disregard for building regulations.

Near the site of the November 1 collapse, soldiers held back crowds of spectators watching the rescue operation.

Dozens of angry local residents and workers gathered to help soon after the collapse, many crying and expressing frustration at the slow pace of rescue efforts.

Lagos State Police Commissioner Hakeem Olusegun Odumosu said it was still too early to determine the cause of the collapse.

“Many workers are trapped under the rubble,” said Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, director general of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency.

Four other construction workers at the site told AFP that dozens of their colleagues were inside when the building collapsed.

“Since 40 people were inside, I see 10 bodies because I went up,” said Peter Ajagbe, 26, a local worker at the site.

“One of my partners is dead.”

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Taiwo Sule, 21, another worker, said he saw five bodies on top of the collapsed building, where he tried to help them retrieve them.

An AFP journalist at the scene saw at least one person passed out from the rubble.

Governor Sanwo-Olu said he ordered an investigation into the incident.

In one of the worst construction disasters, more than 100 people, mostly South Africans, died when a church guesthouse collapsed in Lagos in 2014.

An investigation revealed that the building was built illegally and had structural flaws.

Two years later, at least 60 people were killed when a roof collapsed on a church in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom state in the east of the country.


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