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Rescuers still trying to find missing people after building collapsed in Nigeria

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Rescuers still trying to find missing people after building collapsed in Nigeria

It had been advertised as “Luxury in the Sky,” a glamorous residential high-rise in an upmarket area of Lagos, where apartments started at $1.2 million a unit.

But on Monday, this more than 20 storey half-constructed building in Nigeria’s economic hub became the scene of tragedy, after the entire structure collapsed and killed at least ten people.Nine more survivors have so far been pulled from the wreckage, according to Lagos State’s Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat.

On Tuesday morning, voices could be heard calling for help beneath mounds of rubble and twisted metal. Emergency teams are now racing to rescue an unknown number of people still trapped under what was supposed to be a “7-star hotel experience,” according to brochures from the building’s developers Fourscore Homes.

The incident has raised concerns over construction practices and regulatory controls in Nigeria, where a number of buildings have collapsed in recent years.It has also brought fresh heartache for the dozens of onlookers who gathered at the devastated site Tuesday. Among them, distraught relatives who were anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones.

Onlookers wait for news of survivors in a building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 2.
Onlookers wait for news of survivors in a building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 2.

One of these onlookers, Farati Bakare, was awaiting news of his uncle who he said had visited the site yesterday. But as the hours slip by, their hopes of good news are also fading.Ibrahim Farinloye, of the national agency coordinating the rescue operations, told reporters gathered at scene Tuesday that he had spoken to people trapped inside the building and remains hopeful more will be brought out alive.”We heard voices coming in and out,” Farinloye said. “After communicating with them we swung into action. Two excavators were deployed to the area.”

Anger and confusion

One bricklayer, who gave his name as Dragon, said he had gone on an errand when he saw the building collapse. He described seeing a dead body pulled from the rubble, and people covered in dust in the aftermath.

Dragon said he knew of at least seven other bricklayers who were still missing in the disaster.Another missing person is 26-year-old Zainab Oyindamola Sanni, who was carrying out her mandatory national youth service with FourScore, the developers of the building. The young woman’s brother, Fawaz Sanni, said she was among those spoken to by rescue workers and had responded. “They told me she is still alive,” he said.

People walk to rescue workers from the rubble of the collapsed building in Lagos, Nigeria.
People walk to rescue workers from the rubble of the collapsed building in Lagos, Nigeria.
Locals look at the wreckage of the destroyed building.
Locals look at the wreckage of the destroyed building.

Locals criticized the slow response from emergency services in the aftermath of the collapse on Monday, with one witness saying “we’ve waited four or five hours now!” Another man yelled: “People are dying!”In desperation, a number of people resorted to digging people out with their bare hands, pulling three people from the rubble before emergency services arrived on Monday.The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said it activated its emergency response plan, sending excavation equipment to the scene.The Nigerian Red Cross also on site assisting authorities.

Questions over collapse

The building, located on Gerald Road in the city’s affluent Ikoyi neighborhood, is a construction site for luxury apartments. It had been under for construction for two years.A brochure for the building features an artist impression of sleek white buildings with roof-top swimming pools and penthouses going for $5 million.

Deputy Governor Hamzat said the building, known as the “360 Degrees Tower,” was sealed by planning agents in July due to building contraventions.A Lagos state spokesperson identified the owner of the building as Femi Osibona of Fourscore Homes and said Osibona “was carrying out corrective measures when this incident happened.”It is unknown what caused the building to collapse.

Rescue workers carry a body at the site of a collapsed  building under construction in Lagos, Nigeria.
Rescue workers carry a body at the site of a collapsed building under construction in Lagos, Nigeria.

The investigation into the cause of the collapse is ongoing, and officials on the ground are evaluating possible damage to the surrounding structures, according to a statement from the Lagos state government. We contacted Fourscore Heights Limited, the parent company of Fourscore Homes, but had not received a response at time of publishing.Building collapses in Nigeria have increased in recent years, often due to lack of adherence to regulatory controls, poor knowledge of construction and sub-standard building materials.

In 2019, the collapse of two separate buildings, including one housing a school, left dozens of people dead.An expert said at the time that more than 1,000 buildings were at risk of collapsing in Lagos.

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