Five persons including a teenager and an octogenarian were on Wednesday rescued after a three – storey building collapsed in Lagos.
The incident occurred at 4, Odunfa Street, Adeniji Adele, Lagos Island, at about 9:00am.
Although it could not be ascertained how many persons were in the building before it caved in, most of the residents expressed fears that their neighbours were still trapped underneath the rubble.
Before the building described as barrack collapsed, some of the residents, particularly those on the third floor were said to have escaped through the window.
While they were outside, they claimed that other neighbours trapped in the rubble had contacted them appealing to be rescued.
At the time The Nation visited, four persons have been rescued and operations were ongoing as two excavators were being used to create holes between the slabs, to create easy access for trapped persons.
The octogenarian, who was identified as a grandmother, was rescued over four hours after the collapse.
She was carried on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask placed on her mouth and nostrils before she was conveyed to a standby Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS).
The Nation observed that the grey-haired woman, though covered with dust, looked strong and attempted to clean some of the dusts from her ears.
A combined team of 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.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, General Manager LSBCA, Shola Aderigbebe, said the building was marked for integrity test and 14 days ultimatum served the residents.
He decried the lack of compliance by residents on safety directives, noting that 1,104 buildings have been sealed in the last four months.
He said: “We have been dealing with all distress buildings, but it is pathetic that residents do not yield to warnings. For this building, we have served them 14 days ultimatum.
“The ultimatum has expired before today. We asked them to conduct Structural Stability Test (SST) and they agreed. We were still waiting for them to conduct the test before the building collapsed.
“The test would have helped us ascertain if the building was distressed or not. Some buildings can be defective but when the test is conducted, we will be able to know if the building can be renovated or demolished.
“We have opened a file for the building. Marking a building does not mean we are demolishing because no building can be demolished until a test has been conducted to ascertain its stability.
“In the last four months, we have sealed 1,104 building for lack of compliance. Some are illegal structures, while some are distressed.”
The LASEMA’s boss, Micheal Akindele, said the four persons earlier rescued sustained minor injuries and were taken to Lagos Island General Hospital.
He said they have 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.
“We cannot say if people are trapped or not because we have not gotten to ground zero. But so far, five persons have been rescued and were are still working. All agencies responded in good time and we are doing everything possible to ensure lives and properties are saved,” he said.
Assistant Director, Federal Fire Service, Okone Macauly said weak structure was responsible for the collapse.
“Initially we rescued about four people that were slightly injured from the building. We haven’t seen any victims.
“The challenges are the equipments used to bring the debris out. It is an old building but as time went on, they have been increasing it.
“The cause hasn’t been ascertained, but the building is weak. The landlord was informed as at last month and he did not do anything. I believe as at yesterday (Tuesday), people were packing out of the building not knowing it was going to collapse this morning.
However, residents who admitted that the government had issued warnings on the building, blamed the owners and caretaker for negligence.