Dozens feared trapped after deadly collapse of high-rise in Nigeria

Emergency personnel stand by the debris of a collapsed building in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria, November 1, 2021. NNEKA CHILE/REUTERS

Lagos — Desperate relatives waited on Tuesday for news of missing people a day after a Lagos high-rise building collapsed suddenly, killing at least six people and leaving more trapped inside. The 21-story building was still under construction when it fell abruptly into a pile of concrete slabs on Monday in the wealthy Ikoyi district of Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Rescuers said they had managed to pull four people out of the wreckage, but construction workers feared dozens of their colleagues were still trapped inside on Tuesday.

CBS News correspondent Debora Patta said that as time passed, hopes of finding any survivors were fading fast. Rescue workers and locals worked through the night, scouring the mound of rubble and twisted metal.

Sitting on the pavement near the crushed remains of the building, brothers Fawas Sanni, 21 and Afolabi Sanni, 17, were shellshocked as they waited for news of their sister.

“Our sister is inside,” said Fawas, a tear rolling down his cheek.

Their 25-year-old-sister Zainab was posted on September 6 to the construction site by the National Youth Service Corps, they said.

“I was the last one who to spoke to her before she went to work yesterday morning,” said the older brother, covering his head with his hands.

Rescue workers carry a body from the scene of a collapsed 21-story apartment building that had been under construction in Lagos, Nigeria, Nov. 1, 2021. Sunday Alamba/AP

Patta said that some local reports claimed the building had been constructed several floors higher than originally intended, and authorities were criticized by angry crowds gathered at the scene of the disaster, who said rescue efforts didn’t start quickly enough.

As Patta reported, the scene was all too familiar — a replay of building collapses that have plagued Nigeria in recent years. Collapses are tragically common in Lagos and across Africa’s most populous nation, where substandard materials, negligence and a lack of enforcement of construction standards are major problems.

Lagos state police said it was too early to determine why the Ikoyi building collapsed, but Lagos emergency management agency manager Femi Oke-Osanyintolu said infractions had been committed in its construction.

“We are going to get to the roots of the matter to prevent a recurrence. So far six bodies have been recovered, four pulled out alive while three others with minor injuries have been treated,” he told AFP.

Security forces and rescue personnel are seen at the site of a collapsed 21-story apartment building that had been under construction in Lagos, Nigeria, Nov. 1, 2021. Sunday Alamba/AP

Two excavators were digging in the pile of concrete early on Tuesday.

Across the street from the site, Moses Oladipo, 65, was waiting for news of his 50-year-old son, who has three children.

“He just came here to visit his friend, before his flight back to the U.S. where he lives,” said the father, crouching on the ground, close to the entrance. “They rescued a man last night… I thought it was him, but no… I still have hope.”

The Lagos State Governor has ordered an investigation into the incident.

In one of Nigeria’s worst building disasters, more than 100 people, mostly South Africans, died when a church guesthouse crumbled in Lagos in 2014.

An inquiry found the building had been built illegally and had structural flaws.

Two years later, at least 160 people were killed when a roof fell in on a church in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom state, in the east of the country.

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