Seven yet-to-be-identified persons lost their lives on Sunday when a three-storey building under construction collapsed in the Obalende area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro gathered that 10 other victims were rescued by emergency responders, who raced to the scene of the incident.
As of the time of filing this report, the cause of the collapse, which happened around 5.40pm, had yet to be ascertained.
Confirming the incident, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the rescued victims were taken to hospital for treatment, adding that the corpses had been evacuated from the scene of the incident.
Oke-Osanyintolu said, “Upon arrival at the incident scene, a three-storey building under construction was discovered to have collapsed. The cause of the collapse has yet to be ascertained, but efforts are presently ongoing by the LASEMA Response Team and other responders to salvage the situation.
“As of 5.40pm, a total of eight men have been extricated alive by the LASEMA Response Team and other stakeholders, and have been attended to and quickly transferred to the Lagos Island General Hospital by LASEMA paramedics for further medical attention.
“Four people, made up of three males and one female, have so far been recovered dead and handed over to the SEHMU at the incident scene. A recovery operation is still ongoing.”
However, the acting Zonal Coordinator, South-West Zonal Office, National Emergency Management Agency, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, in an update on the incident around 7.42pm, said the corpses of six persons were removed from the rubble, while 10 other injured persons were rescued.
PUNCH Metro gathered that labourers were working on the third floor of the building, which had earlier been sealed off by the Lagos State Building Control Agency, when it caved in, trapped and killed some of them.
A caution tape used in sealing off the building was sighted by our correspondent.
However, based on the account of some rescued victims, it was gathered that some of the labourers, said to be Muslims, were observing prayers when the tragedy struck.
A source, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, said despite the sealing off of the building by LASBCA, the workers used a roofing sheet to shield the site to continue the work.
The source stated, “The work at the site is illegal because LASBCA had sealed off the place so those working there operated against the law. To achieve their purpose, they used a roofing sheet to cover the whole structure, and by so doing, nobody knew that they were working on the site.
“What some of those, who survived, said was that some people are still trapped in the rubble as they were praying when the building collapsed. We don’t know if they are alive or dead, but that is what some of the survivors said.”
The Head, Public Affairs, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Nosa Okunbor, added in an update, “Following the collapsed building at No. 60 Odo Street, Obalende, in the Eti-Osa LCDA, LASEMA activated the state’s emergency response plan with the latest update being that 10 persons were treated with minor injuries; and 10 severely injured persons were removed from the debris, tended and transferred to hospital for further treatment.
“Records indicate that the seven fatalities, made up of six men and one woman, have also been recovered and promptly handed over to SEHMU.
“Further on-site investigation revealed that a portion of the collapsed building said to be occupied by some of the workers had been sealed off by the Lagos State Building Control Agency for obvious reasons of contravention.
“It was also revealed that the owner of the said structure had commenced clandestine operations in the wee hours of Sunday, an illegal action that directly resulted in this unfortunate incident.
“According to eyewitnesses, the casting of the third floor was in progress when the building suddenly collapsed at the illegal construction site.”
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Idris Salako, later visited the scene of the collapse and inspected other adjoining buildings in the area for an on-the-spot assessment, and promised to get to the root of the incident.