10 bodies recovered from Lagos collapsed building | Dailytrust

10 bodies recovered from Lagos collapsed building

10 bodies recovered from collapsed Lagos building
10 bodies recovered from collapsed Lagos building
  • …Mangled bodies of mother, son, others recovered  

 

From Eugene Agha, Afeez Hanafi and Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos

 

There was crying and wailing at the scene of the collapsed three-storey building in the Ebute-Metta area of Lagos on Monday as mangled bodies of victims were evacuated from the rubbles.

 The incident, which happened in the late hours of Sunday left many residents desolate. Many people burst into tears as they lost loved ones to the incident.

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At the outset of the rescue efforts by a combined team of emergency operatives comprising the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the state emergency management agency (LASEMA), the Lagos State Fire Service, among others, many people were trapped.

 And as bulldozers combed through the rubbles, many mangled bodies were recovered dead and as the rescuers reached ground zero around 5 p.m. yesterday, the death toll had risen to 10 while 24 were rescued alive.

 In an update sent to one of our correspondents by 6 p.m, the Director, Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service, Adeseye Margaret said, “As we achieve ground zero of the search and rescue operations, it is to be noted that the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service can account for the followings:

 “Twenty four (24) persons were rescued alive with varying degrees of injury and all in stable condition, including 2 (two), who are responding to treatment; 10 (ten) persons recovered suspected dead; 6 (six) males and 4 (four) females; All the first and major responders are still collaborating to mop up the incident scene.”

Some of the earliest recoveries at the scene were the mangled bodies of a 68-year-old woman identified as Mama Tahir and her son, Tahir who were pulled out from under the rubble of the collapsed building.

Funeral prayer for some of the people who died in the collapsed building in Lagos.
Photo: Benedict Uwalaka

 

The father of the deceased, Ibrahim, sat opposite the house looking desolate while the corpses of his wife and son were taken away by health workers.

“Mama Tahir joined us during the Ramadan prayers every morning and evening. We never knew it would end this way,” a neighbour who identified herself as Tawa said in tears.

She revealed that on the day of the incident, Mama as she was generally known, was full of life, moving from one end of the house to another and discussing with other residents.

 “It was as if Mama wanted us to talk before she left this sinful world,” she added.

 Tears eluded 70-year-old Ibrahim, as he watched from a distance as the body of his 24-year old son and wife were brought out. The atmosphere was sombre as some neighbours sat with him.

However, hours later, rescuers brought the body of another four-year-old boy, triggering another round of tears.

 Alhaja Agba, an elderly woman who also resided in the ill-fated house, told Daily Trust that life is now tasteless to her watching helplessly as the lifeless bodies of her loved ones were pulled out.

 Baba Sule, who left the house a few minutes before it came down, said it was God that saved him.

 “I would have been among those trapped. I had this restless feeling on Sunday night and could not stay in my apartment.

 “I stepped out to gist with a friend of mine who resides in the opposite house. We were just discussing the fasting and the excitement that follows the end of Ramadan when suddenly, I heard a noise.

 “I count myself lucky because my wife and children were not at home at the time of the incident. I wonder what would have been my fate if they were around. I am not rejoicing because some of my neighbours died in the incident but what would I do? After all, I am human,” he added.

 How I escaped death – Survivor 

 Another tenant at the ill-fated building, Engineer Adegoke Ogunbabi, narrated his close shave with death, saying he was asleep when the building caved in.

 The survivor said he firmly believed that help would come his way as the building crumbled.

 Ogunbambi said he had been living in the building for 10 years, adding that his room was on the last floor.

 He said, “I was on my bed when the building collapsed. I normally do exercise because I had a spinal cord injury.

 “God was my saviour. I slept around 7pm. A neighbour called me but I didn’t pick up the call because I hate disturbance while sleeping. Someone else called me around 9.30pm. I was hearing some sounds and noticed that the building was collapsing.

 “I was not properly dressed. I didn’t entertain fear. I was determined that whatever God wishes would happen. I was assuring myself that I would be safe and God did it. Someone came to rescue me.”

 Ogunbabi, who said the landlord didn’t reside in the building, expressed grief over the loss of his neighbours to the tragedy.

 “I feel bad that some people died, especially a young man called David. He always played with me,” he added. 

‘We gave occupants quit notice’

 One of the children of the owner of the house who also claimed to be the family secretary, Oluyomi Adejare, told one of our correspondents that they had long issued all the tenants quit notice when they discovered the house was showing signs of distress, but rather than move out the tenants decided to threaten them with a lawsuit.

 “We asked them to vacate the house when we saw officials of the state government building agency coming and going. They told us that the house was not habitable. But the tenants turned deaf ears to all entreaties for them to leave.

 “The house was built 20-years ago by a developer. In fact, the developer was going to hand over the house to us in May this year, but see what had happened.

 “The managing director of the firm that developed the house died about ten years ago, but his wife only believes in collecting money from the tenants,” he added.

 The 20-year-old building housing about 20 families, mostly traders and their families collapsed on Sunday night in Ebute-Metta, a congested location in Lagos. 

 Emergency efforts were hampered because vehicles had difficulty navigating the neighbourhood’s alleyways.

 Officials evacuate residents in another distressed building

Residents of an adjacent building believed to be in distress were evacuated, as confirmed by the NEMA Lagos Territorial Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye.

 Local residents who were first to arrive at the accident site used bare hands to dig into the piles of concrete and bricks until they were joined by police and firefighters from the state fire service.

Lawmaker demands measures to avert recurrence 

 Meanwhile, a lawmaker representing Lagos Mainland Constituency 1, Owolabi Ajani, has sympathised with families who lost their loved ones in the incident.

 Ajani in a statement on Monday urged the relevant agencies to put in place measures to prevent a recurrence, describing the tragedy as heartbreaking.

 The statement read in part, “It was a dark and gloomy night. While many others were preparing for this joyous day, last night was about a heavy rescue mission for victims of the Ebute-Metta building collapse. Our thoughts are with them. 

 “I think it is high time concerned agencies took more measures in ensuring that such an occurrence does not recur. We don’t want the loss of healthy family members in Lagos Mainland. We don’t want to sleep on our beds with fears that people could lose their lives while in their comfort zones.”

 Experts fault regulatory failure

 Former President of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Victor Oyetuga faulted the failure of those concerned to regularly examine some of the old buildings.

“The problem is that when things are being done, the persons doing it are not being sincere and that is the issue. It is just a matter of examining the old buildings and seeing if the right thing has been done and those buildings can be corrected.

He said the children are only “Interested in getting naira and kobo. We have more than enough laws to guide against but the problem is implementation. It is not that the government is devoid of ideas.”

Former Chairman of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Ikeja Branch, Akin Akintola said the government has a lot of work to do in carrying out integrity tests on old buildings in the state.

 He also noted that the state Building Control Agency is over-worked and said the local government should be empowered.

 “Until we start giving recognition to local governments; this is one of the responsibilities of local government. What we have in the state should be reciprocated at the local government level.  

“We will keep having these types of collapsed buildings until we start doing the right thing,” he added.

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