A 25-story apartment building being built in an upscale area of Nigeria’s largest city has collapsed, killing at least one person with more than 100 workers feared trapped under the rubble.
The building was in the Ikoyi district of Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos and fell down on Monday at around 1.30pm.
Rescue officials said many workers were caught inside the building when it crumbled though they could not confirm the number of people trapped or dead.
Dozens of angry residents gathered at the site soon after the collapse, many crying and voicing frustration over the slow pace of the rescue efforts.
‘We have brought out one dead body and rescued three alive so far but rescue operation is still going on,’ Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency said.
‘We are also trying to bring in the military to assist in crowd control.’
Four construction workers at the site said dozens of their colleagues were inside when the building crumbled.
‘Like 40 people were inside, I see 10 bodies because I climbed up,’ said Peter Ajagbe, 26, one local worker on the site.
‘One of my partners is dead.’
Taiwo Sule, 21, another worker, said he had seen five bodies on top of the collapsed building, where he had tried to help recover them.
Construction worker Eric Tetteh, 41, was inside the building.
He said the builders were waiting for an excavator to arrive at the site when the building suddenly crumbled into a heap of debris.
He said: ‘Me and my brother, we escaped, but more people are there, more than 100 people.’
Obafemi Hamzat, deputy governor of Lagos, was met on his arrival at the site by angry youths who accused authorities of failing to immediately launch rescue efforts.
‘For the past two hours since it collapsed nobody came here,’ one angry worker shouted towards him.
Workers said the high rise, which collapsed in the Ikoyi area of Lagos, had been under construction for about two years.
It was not immediately known what caused the collapse.
Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, general manager of the Lagos State emergency management agency, said ‘many’ workers are trapped in the rubble, without giving a precise figure.
He said: ‘It is a 25-storey building still under construction.
‘Many workers are trapped under the rubble.
‘We are trying to rescue them.
‘We cannot say at this moment how many are dead.
‘The rescue operation is ongoing.’
A yellow excavator was used to move concrete slabs in the search for people in the rubble.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency said it had activated its emergency response plan.
It said: ‘All first respondents are at the scene while the heavy duty equipment and life detection equipment have been dispatched.’
Workers at the site, some covered in dust, said dozens of their colleagues could have been inside when the building collapsed.
One of them, Latif Shittu, said: ‘I feel so bad because the people that are inside they have family.’
Ikoyi is one of the more wealthy residential and business districts in Lagos, the major commercial city of Africa’s most populous nation.
Such incidents are relatively common in Lagos because enforcement of building code regulations is weak.
Other observers blamed shoddy work by private developers eager to meet demand for housing in the megacity.
In one of the worst building disasters, more than 100 people, mostly South Africans, died when a church guesthouse crumbled in Lagos in 2014.