Lagos building collapse: desperation at site as families watch rescue efforts

One of them was Zainab Sanni, 26, a microbiologist who worked with Fourscore Homes, the developers of the building, as part of the country’s compulsory youth service program.

Rescue workers told her family on Tuesday that she identified herself by name. His family were among many others who called the names of their loved ones to rescuers, who in turn said they were communicating with people under the rubble. It was a fleeting moment of joy and relief for over a dozen families.

Rescue workers recovered Sanni’s corpse on Wednesday.

“I don’t know why they couldn’t reach her in time,” Sanni’s brother Fawaz told CNN. “If they had worked regularly, if they had had enough equipment, they would have saved my sister.

The death toll in the collapse of the high-rise building under construction rose to 32 on Thursday, according to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. However, the National Emergency Agency estimates the death toll at 36. Nine people were saved alive, according to official figures.

Screams from relatives of the victims filled the air as rescuers removed corpses from the destruction on Wednesday and Thursday. Heavy construction machinery pummeled the wreckage where dozens of victims have not yet been found.

“All they’ve done is haul corpses out of this place… they’re not taking any precautions,” Annarita Iwelu said in a live Instagram video from the site. Iwelu is the sister of Samuel Iwelu, 34, whose body was found under the pile of rubble and mutilated steel on Thursday evening.

Before his body was found, Iwelu’s family remained near the site overnight, remaining vigilant to identify the bodies and look for any sign of life.

Rescuers are seen on the rubble of a collapsed building in the Ikoyi district of Lagos, Nigeria, November 2, 2021.

“They literally pick up and drag things. They drag rods left to right and center,” Annarita said, her voice charged with indignation. “If someone is hiding somewhere … you will cover them, you will shoot things at them in the head. You will end up killing them.”

One of the victims was confirmed to be Oyinye Enekwe, 26, in a statement released by his family to CNN. She had started working as a personal assistant at Fourscore a week earlier.

“Its light shone brilliantly … What is saddest is that it has also been crushed by the greed, corruption and wickedness of the business leaders and the elite government that plague us. out of control in Nigeria, ”said the Enekwe family.

Families seemed to sink deeper into despair as they watched the rescue efforts. Annarita Iwelu also said she saw rescuers watching tutorials on YouTube – sight, she said, added insult to injury.

In response, Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu told reporters that “very sophisticated” machines had been brought in by another agency and that some consultants were unaware of them.

Onyinye Ekenwe, 26, who died in the building collapse, had started working with Fourscore only a week ago.

A woman threw herself at the governor’s feet. “My son is in there! My son is in there,” his pleas echoed amid the cacophony of excavators, which some relatives have compared to a demolition process.

During the governor’s speech outside the collapsed building on Thursday, desperate relatives begged him to help him find their loved ones.

The collapsed apartment building in upscale Ikoyi was advertised as “Luxury in the Sky,” where apartments started at $ 1.2 million per unit.

Residents criticized the slow response of emergency services following Monday’s collapse, with a witness telling CNN “we’ve waited four or five hours now!”

Another man shouted, “People are dying!

In desperation, a number of people resorted to hand searches, pulling several people from the rubble before emergency services arrived on Monday.

Ongoing investigation

The building had been under construction for two years.

Investigation into the cause of the collapse is ongoing and officials on the ground are assessing possible damage to surrounding structures, according to a statement from the Lagos State Government.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a close-up of a collapsed building, center, in Lagos, Nigeria on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

CNN contacted Fourscore Heights Limited, the parent company of Fourscore Homes, but had not received a response at the time of posting.

Building collapses in Nigeria have increased in recent years, often due to a lack of compliance with regulatory controls, poor construction knowledge and substandard building materials.

In 2019, the collapse of two separate buildings, including one housing a school, left dozens of people dead.

An expert told CNN at the time that more than 1,000 buildings were at risk of collapsing in Lagos.

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