‘’My sister called me that she was under the debris, by the staircase, that was at about 2:30pm. Later, she called again to say that the place was very hot and that she was getting weak. She is still there struggling for breath. But the rescue workers are unable to get to where she is.’’ This was the distraught reaction of Mercy, a relative whose sister was trapped in the three-storey building that collapsed yesterday at Odunfa Street, CMS, on Lagos Island. Aside from Mercy’s sister, several others are still feared trapped in the building.
However, five persons, including an 80-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy, were rescued from the rubbles of the collapsed building at about 1:45pm. Vanguard gathered that the building, described as ‘civilian Barracks” caved in at about 9 am, after several warning sounds of distress. It was gathered that some residents, especially occupants on the third floor, escaped through the window, jumping unto an uncompleted building beside it. When Vanguard visited the scene, residents and bystanders could not ascertain the number of persons still trapped in the building. The residents confirmed that they received phone calls from residents still trapped beneath the rubbles but no one had been confirmed dead.
At the scene, the combined team include Police, Army, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, federal and state fire service, Lagos State Building Control Agency, LSBCA, and Lagos Safety Commission, were on ground to manage the situation. Sources said that the octogenarian, who was rescued over four hours after the collapse, was conveyed to the General Hospital, Lagos Island, for medical care by Lagos State Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS.
According to LASEMA’s boss, Micheal Akindele, the four persons earlier rescued sustained minor injuries and were taken to Lagos Island General Hospital. He said they had not been able to ascertain the number of occupants in the building, adding that no one could confirm whether or not people were still in the rubble. Assistant Director, Federal Fire Service, Mr. Okon Macaulay, said the distressed structure was responsible for the collapse, adding “initially we rescued about four people that were slightly injured from the building.”
Some residents also accused government agencies in-charge of conducting integrity tests of collecting bribes from landlords. They also insisted that they had complained to the owners, the Onibudo family, over the state of the building but they failed to embark on repairs. Responding, General Manager, LSBCA, Shola Aderibigbe, said the building was marked for integrity test and 14 days ultimatum was served on the building.