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Two dead, 14 rescued in Lagos building collapse


The collapsed building

• We warned occupants to vacate the house, says LASBCA boss

It was a black Democracy Day in Lagos, as another three-storey building at ‪No. 9, Daddy Alaja Street, Oke Arin‬, Idumota on Lagos Island, collapsed yesterday morning with two people confirmed dead and 14 others rescued.‬

This is the fourth building to have collapsed in Lagos in less than a month. The Guardian gathered that the collapsed building was being renovated with people inside when it caved in.

The bodies of the deceased have since been deposited at the Lagos Island Hospital mortuary while the 14 persons that were rescued were being treated at the emergency unit of the hospital.

Both the deceased and those rescued alive were said to be working at the site of the building that was undergoing reconstruction. Sources said more persons were still trapped under the collapsed structure as at 5:30p.m. yesterday.

The house collapsed around 6:45a.m. when workers were just resuming for work. Taiwo Omilani, 38, a carpenter at the site, alleged that he escaped being trapped minutes after he left to buy some materials.

“I had just moved out of the building and was inches away when the building collapsed. At first, I was confused but the reality of what had happened slowly dawned on me. I was covered with dust from head to toe. I screamed for help. I was running as I was screaming because in my mind I thought I have not ran very far away from the collapsed structure.

“Tijani, my fellow carpenter had just entered one of the rooms on the ground floor to change into his working cloths when the house fell. Thankfully, he is among those rescued.”

Another eyewitness, Fatai Amao, who also claimed to be working as a bricklayer at the site, said his late arrival to work was what saved him.“I always believe in arriving early to work. It affords me the opportunity to arrange myself ahead of time. But yesterday morning, I was feeling too reluctant to stand up from bed. When I eventually dragged myself out of bed, I told my wife I might not be going to work, but when I thought about the money I will be paid and what it will do for my family, I set out only to arrive the place few minutes after the house collapsed.

“I thank God for saving my life and those that were trapped. I heard that two persons who were brought out from under the collapsed structure had died. I pray that God will accept their souls. They only came out to find what they would eat for the day. I believe that, like me, if they had money, none of them would leave home for work today being a public holiday.”

The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, who confirmed the incident, said it was the prompt response by emergency responders that culminated in the rescue of 14 victims.

Tiamiyu noted that preliminary investigation conducted at the scene of the incident revealed that illegal activities of repairs were ongoing. He advised owners and developers of buildings in the state to strictly adhere to building codes and physical planning laws to avert unnecessary loss of lives.

However, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) yesterday said occupants of the collapsed building failed to heed its repeated warnings to vacate the house.

LASBCA Acting General Manager, Oyewale Joseph, told newsmen that the building collapsed due to weak foundation and use of substandard materials.“Before now, LASBCA district office in Lagos Island had served all statutory notices on this very building and having served all the notices, we have also sealed the building twice. Last week Friday, the building in question was sealed off and all the occupants were chased out by the agency’s enforcement team.

“But the developer took advantage of the long weekend and began illegal renovation of this building; there is no renovation permit and there is no letter from the supervising engineer,’’ Joseph said.

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