Lagos building collapse search ends

Thursday March 14 2019

Emergency and rescue personnel at the site of a

Emergency and rescue personnel at the site of a building which collapsed in Lagos on March 13, 2019. At least nine people were killed in the tragedy. PHOTO | AFP 

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Emergency services on Thursday said they had called off the search for survivors of a building collapse that killed nine in Nigeria's biggest city, Lagos, as anger mounted over dilapidated property and unscrupulous owners.

The building, which housed a primary school and nursery, came down without warning in the teeming Lagos Island area at mid-morning on Wednesday.

Firefighters and other emergency services worked through the night to find anyone still trapped. One body was recovered in the early hours, the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) said.

"We have gotten to ground zero," added Kehinde Adebayo, spokesman for the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency.

Rescue operation

"The debris has been cleared. All those trapped have been evacuated and the rescue operation has ended," he told AFP.


Final casualty figures were still being compiled and would be announced later, he said.
Nema has said that 37 people were rescued alive.

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the building had been earmarked for demolition and a nursery and primary school were being run illegally on one of its floors.

School bags, toys and clothes were among the piles of rubble as a bulldozer tried to clear a path through wreckage.

Not all children

Shopworker Adeniyi Afolabi, who lives nearby, gave the name of the school as the Ohen Nursery and Primary, and said there were 144 pupils in attendance on Wednesday.

Another local, Zion Munachi, also confirmed the name and the number of pupils. But both said not all children were at the school because of sports activities.

Chaotic scenes of heavy lifting equipment and ambulances trying to pick their way through huge crowds and narrow streets gave way to anger on Thursday, as residents demanded answers.

Lagos Island is the historic heart of the metropolis, which is home to an estimated 20 million people, and also home to its central business district.

People were killed

Building collapses are tragically common in the city and elsewhere in Nigeria, where construction regulations are routinely flouted.

In September 2014, 116 people died -- 84 of them South Africans -- when a six-storey guesthouse collapsed at the Lagos church complex of celebrity televangelist TB Joshua.

An inquiry found extra floors had been added without planning permission. Engineers responsible for the construction are currently on trial for manslaughter.

In 2016, at least 60 people were killed when the roof collapsed at a church in the southern city of Uyo.