Nigerian rescue teams pulled two more survivors out of a collapsed Lagos skyscraper on Tuesday and were communicating with others buried in the rubble, a day after the disaster left at least seven dead and left many more trapped.
The 21-story building was still under construction when it suddenly fell into a pile of concrete slabs on Monday in the affluent Ikoyi district of Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Rescuers say they have so far managed to get seven survivors out of the wreckage, but construction workers fear dozens of their colleagues may be trapped inside.
Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told AFP at the scene that two of the seven people had been rescued earlier on Tuesday.
“There is still hope that many more are inside. I spoke to some of them just a few minutes ago and their voices are loud.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement released Monday evening, urged “the authorities to step up their efforts in rescue operations” for the victims.
But relatives were desperately awaiting news of those missing a day after the collapse.
Sitting on the sidewalk near the crushed remains of the building, brothers Fawas Sanni, 21, and Afolabi Sanni, 17, were shocked as they waited for news from their brother.
“Our sister is inside,” Fawas said, a tear streaming down her cheek.
Their sister Zainab, 25, was posted to the site on September 6 by the National Youth Service Corps, they said.
“I was the last to speak to her before she left for work yesterday morning,” said the older brother, covering his head with his hands.
PHOTOS: Two-storey building collapses in Lagos
Many people are feared to be trapped as a building collapses in the Ikoyi neighborhood of Lagos.
Credit: LASEMA, Hotgist pic.twitter.com/GOO1XUK5Uu
– Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) November 1, 2021 Enahoro Tony, a volunteer rescuer, was angry with the rescue operation.
“I recovered three bodies, then we were chased away by the army,” he said. “What’s going on in this country? I hate this country,” he fumed
“Still have hope”
Lagos State Police said it was too early to determine why the Ikoyi building collapsed, but Lagos Emergency Management Agency director Femi Oke-Osanyintolu said offenses had been committed during its construction.
“We are going to get to the bottom of this to prevent this from happening again,” he told AFP.
The Governor of Lagos State has ordered an investigation.
Two excavators were digging into the concrete pile early Tuesday, as the crowds outside the building increased.
A man who declined to give his name said he spoke to relatives and friends, collecting the names of those still trapped under the rubble.
Opposite the site, Moses Oladipo, 65, awaited 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 United States where he lives,” said the father, crouched on the ground near the entrance.
“They saved a man last night… I thought it was him, but no,” he said.
“I still have hope.”
Building collapses are tragically common in Lagos and Africa’s most populous country where substandard materials, neglect and lack of enforcement of building standards are major issues.
In one of Nigeria’s 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.