A skyscraper under construction collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, on Monday, killing at least three people and dozens more fearful of being trapped in the rubble.
A yellow backhoe pushed back concrete slabs in search of people in the wreckage of the 21-story building in Lagos’ Ikoyi district, AFP correspondents said at the scene.
Relief officials said “many” workers were trapped inside the building when it collapsed, although 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 expressing frustration at the slow pace of rescue efforts.
Lagos State Police Commissioner Hakeem Olusegun Odumosu said three bodies have been found so far and three people have been rescued.
“Three bodies have been recovered and the operation is continuing,” he told reporters.
He said it was too early to say what caused the building to collapse.
“Many workers are trapped under the rubble,” said Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, director general of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency.
The soldiers held back a crowd of spectators watching the rescue operation at the site, where the building’s concrete floors were sandwiched.
Four construction workers at the site told AFP that dozens of their colleagues were inside when the building collapsed.
“Since 40 people were inside, I see 10 bodies because I went up,” said Peter Ajagbe, 26, a local worker at the site.
“One of my partners is dead.”
Taiwo Sule, 21, another worker, said he saw five bodies on top of the collapsed building, where he tried to help them retrieve them.
An AFP journalist at the scene saw at least one person passed out from the rubble.
“I feel so bad because the people inside have family,” said Latif Shittu, a construction worker.
The Ikoyi area is one of the wealthiest residential and business districts of Lagos, Nigeria’s large, densely populated commercial city.
Building collapses are common in Lagos and other parts of Africa’s most populous country due to the use of substandard materials, neglect and disregard for building regulations.
In one of the worst construction disasters, more than 100 people, mostly South Africans, died when a church guesthouse collapsed in Lagos in 2014.
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