“So far, from what I have been briefed, we have rescued about 25 people and some are already dead but we were earlier informed that it was a school, the building is not technically a school, it is a residential building that was actually accommodating an illegal school so to speak on the second floor.
“Like we have said, we have been carrying out a lot of integrity tests on the buildings in this neighborhood and as you can see, some of them have been marked for demolition but we get resistance from landlords but we must continue to save lives and we would intensify our efforts to see that those have failed our integrity test, we would ensure that they are quickly evacuated and we bring the structures down,” he said.
24 hours after the incident occurred, the rescue agencies say they have reached ‘ground zero’ on the site, meaning that all the rubbles had been excavated and there was no evidence that anyone was still trapped.
According to the government, all relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Health are now intensifying efforts to save the lives of those who have been rescued.
Meanwhile, Governor Ambode commiserated with families of the deceased and promised to foot the hospital bills of those receiving treatment.
“On the part of the government, we would immediately take care of whatever it is that we can do, including the hospital bills,” he said.
“We sympathise with the families of the dead victims and pray for the speedy and full recovery of the injured. We also pray for the safe rescue of those still reportedly trapped in the collapsed building rubble.
“While we commiserate with the government and people of Lagos state over the sad incident, the party is worried that the frequency of this building collapse and its attendant human casualties has become abnormal.
The party called on relevant regulatory authorities across the country to do all necessary to prevent a reoccurrence of such incident.
Activities in the busy and often crowded Ita Faji Street of Lagos Island were disrupted by tragedy on Wednesday morning when a three-storey building housing a school collapsed, trapping more than 100 persons, including pupils.
The building, located on the cramped street characterized by old buildings, went down around 9.45am when pupils of the school, which occupied the second floor were getting into the day’s activities proper and scores of residents were home.
Thousands of residents and many emergency workers descended on the scene and rescued many upon arrival, but some remain trapped and witnesses have given early death toll figures at eight to nine.
As of Wednesday evening, more than 24 victims, mostly children, had been rescued.
The already gloomy street turned a shade darker in the minutes that followed the collapse – with a mixture of shocked residents, screaming women highlighting the disaster.
Those who had first rushed to the scene battled against the rubble, clutching, pushing and shoving concrete and metal just to pull out those trapped.
Members of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, the Police, National Emergency Management Agency and other rescue workers who rushed to the scene had to contend with both crowd and rubble as they joined the desperate rescue effort that continued into the night.
As the news of the collapse spread, anxious parents, friends, and relatives made their way to the school to find their loved ones and children.
A Disaster waiting to happen
The building, located at the end of the street is over 20 years old and among its occupants is the nursery and primary school, which children within the neighborhood attend.
According to a resident in the neighborhood, the house was a death trap, as many people who had lived there, never stayed for long, after several complaints about its structural integrity.
“A few days ago, I went to deliver a message for a brother who runs a betting shop a few streets away. As I climbed the staircase, my heart was skipping because it felt like the building was falling apart. It has a lot of elderly people, asides the school on the second floor,” the resident who gave her name as Folake, said, bursting into tears.
Trapped, no word!
As rescue efforts continued, many parents could be heard wailing, praying and begging for help.
One of them was a woman called Fatima.
“Please come and help me, my aunt’s son is still in the building,” she wailed, attracting sympathizers who tried to console her and her aunt who was nearby, weeping.
According to Fatima, her aunt’s son, Khalid Adebayo, who is six years old, was still trapped in the building with no word about his fate.
“His name is Khalid Adebayo Alani, six years old in Primary 1. He attends the school,” she said.
As of 7 pm, Adebayo and many others were yet to be rescued, in an operation that looks set to go on for days.
Another distraught mother at the scene was worried for one of her children.
She told Channels TV that she had two children trapped in the rubble. While one had been rescued, she had no information about the second.
“I am just coming from the General Hospital; we took my eldest son there, but I am yet to see my younger child. Lukman in KG 2, a 3-year-old boy,” she said.
While speaking about her son, her phone rang, and she expressed the hope that the boy was still alive.
“I have faith, I know he is alive,” she said.
A rescue worker who craved anonymity said the fact that the victims were mostly children was an extra concern for them.
“Until we get to the bottom of the building and we must account for everybody that they claim are in the building,” he said.
“The school must have a record of pupils who have been here and expect parents to identify the victims rescued taken to Lagos Island General Hospital.”
Details about the school remain sketchy and residents referred to it simply as Aunty Esther School. It was gathered that the school is owned and operated by a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Esther Johnson.
The school had both kindergarten and primary sections and it was mostly attended by children in the neighborhood.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who visited the site, said, “It is quite an unfortunate incident, it’s an old building. We have rescued about 25 people and some already dead.”
“It is a residential building accommodating an illegal school, so to speak, and we will be undergoing a lot of integrity test with the buildings in this neighborhood.”
The scene at the Lagos Island General Hospital was not different from the Ita Faji collapse site. Parent had stormed the hospital to look for victims, and sympathizers were seen wearing gloomy faces.
As ambulances arrived one at a time from the site, people scampered to identify the next victim, either dead or alive.
Security operatives battled to manage the bitter crowd as people alleged that the list posted by the hospital authorities was misinforming.
A young man, who confirmed to Channels TV that his son had died, raged in anger as he caused a scene at the premises, even after several attempts to calm him down by family members and sympathizers.
“They told me that my son is alive and stable, I watched as they brought him out of the collapsed building. I chased the ambulance from Ita Faji to this place on a bike. I asked them to give him to me and they refused and later said he is stable. I went inside to discover that he is dead,” he said, as he dashed to the entrance of the hospital to vent his anger on some hospital workers.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of health, Titilayo Goncalves, assured the parents and well-wishers that the hospitals are doing everything possible to save the lives of those rescued.
She added that the Island General Hospital served as a receiving center and when the patient had been stabilised, they would be moved to other tertiary institutions.
“It is a tragic day for us, but we are on top of the situation. Since it started, we have been evacuating patients, emergency care has been given to them all.”
“We have had a whole lot of people coming here, everybody is stable, we try to make them stable and inform tertiary hospitals like LASUTH, Onikan Health Centre, and Gbagada General Hospital that handle critical care on standby, we have transferred patients there already.”
On the number of casualties, Titilayo said: “Rescue operations are still ongoing, and we cannot give a confirmation on the number of casualties. We have a list of all the patients brought in here, so I cannot verify those taken to other hospitals.”
At least 24 victims, mostly children have been rescued from the rubbles of a three-story building which collapsed in the Ita Faji area of Lagos Island.
The children, most of whom are pupils of a primary school located on the top floor of the building, were rescued by officials from emergency rescue agencies and residents of the area, as hundreds swarmed the site.
They were immediately rushed to the Lagos General Hospital, Marina, where some parents anxiously trooped in to confirm if their children were fine.
As rescue operations continued, Channels Television spotted a pupil covered in dust, being pulled from the rubble to a cheering crowd.
Nine persons have, however, been confirmed dead as officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Police, Army and National Security and Civil Defence Force (NSCDC) make frantic efforts to rescue the remaining victims.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday wielded the big stick as he sacked the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Mr Adeigbe Olusola, over the Lekki Gardens building collapse.
The Governor’s decision followed an investigation indicting the Genetral Manager for negligence in the Lekki Gardens building collapse.
Three other senior officials were also sanctioned.
The Governor warned other public officials, private building owners, contractors to always adhere to building plans and approval on their structural drawings during construction.
Thirty-one persons have now been confirmed dead in the building collapse which occurred in the Lekki area of Lagos State on Tuesday, even as rescue operations are continuing at the site of the incident.
The building, which was under construction, collapsed at Chisco Bus Stop in Lekki Phase One area of Lagos State in south western Nigeria.
The General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Mr Michael Akindele, told Channels Television that a total of 13 people had been rescued from the scene.
“We have been able to rescue 13 people alive till date and as I speak with you, we have recovered 31 dead bodies of which one is an infant, a male, and a woman while others are men.
“Search and rescue is still ongoing,” he said.
Mr Akindele also said that the cause of the building collapse was yet to be ascertained.
“While it came down is not the issue now. The major challenge is for us to rescue as many people as possible at this site while relevant agencies will look at the issues during investigation.
“Definitely the building have been distressed and it is on the basis that it is distressed that it collapsed,” he told reporters at the scene of the incident.
Spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), South-west zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, earlier confirmed the figures on Tuesday.
The NEMA official told Channels Television that the incident happened around 4:10am local time.
“We received an alert around 4:20am about the building collapse and immediately we mobilised resources and personnel to move in there.
“As at now, we have recovered four persons dead, six rescued alive,” he said earlier in the day.
Mr Farinloye said that the persons affected may be workers at the construction site.
Taking part in the rescue operation are Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Lagos State Building Control Agency, Police and personnel of the Civil Defence.
About three excavators are also being used by NEMA in the rescue effort.