At least three people have been confirmed dead in a 21-storey building that collapsed Monday on Gerald Road in Ikoyi, Lagos State. An unspecified number of people remain trapped in the building, with four rescues reported at the time of writing.
Rescue operations are ongoing, with a team comprising the military, police and related authorities cordoning off the area to keep out a rowdy crowd that had impeded the work of emergency workers and first responders.
The building, which had been under construction, collapsed a few minutes past 4 pm, causing pandemonium in the area as the loud noise from the collapsed structure forced people to scamper for safety.
Among the casualties, it has been reported, is one of Nigeria’s celebrated developers, Mr Femi Osibona, who died in the rubble.
Osibona, the Managing Director of Four Score, was the brain behind 360 Degrees Towers in Ikoyi. He was reportedly on a visit to the site of the building when it collapsed.
Many people were seriously injured while running for safety.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) has responded to the scene of the collapse and is leading rescue and recovery efforts.
LASEMA Director Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, who confirmed the incident, said rescue operations are ongoing.
Police from the Area A Command and Ikoyi Police Station arrived at the scene but they were overwhelmed by the large crowd which forced the police to call in reinforcements from other formations.
South West Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mr Ibrahim Farinloye confirmed to reporters that rescuers from NEMA, LASEMA and medics from the State Ambulance Service (LASEMBUS) are already on the ground.
Farinloye confirmed that three people had died in the collapse, their bodies recovered; while four others have been rescued alive and efforts are ongoing to rescue others.
‘Rescue operations have commenced. Four persons have been rescued and they are being treated by the medical crew of the Lagos State Emergency Ambulance Service (LASEMBUS). We are on the ground and we must finish the work today because we don’t want the repeat of what happened in Synagogue Church where it took emergency agencies eight days to finish the recovery,’ he stated.
A witness, Emmanuel Sanda, told Daily Sun that ‘there is a strong indication that the owner of the building is among many of the construction workers trapped under the rubble. Some people said he is the owner, others said he is fronting for someone, but we know him as the owner. We saw him a few minutes before the building collapsed; so we are suspecting that he is under the place.’
Sanda said the police had clashed with some individuals who claimed that they were journalists who came to come to cover the story and some street urchins. ‘When the clash was becoming too tense, the police had to call in the military who have cordoned off the area to ward off attacks.
‘In fact, when the building collapsed, we first scampered for safety because we thought it was a bomb explosion. We later came back and started calling all the emergency numbers that we had. We were lucky to get the police, who arrived and started calling emergency agencies,’ the witness narrated.
At the time of writing, rescue operations are ongoing, with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu, on the ground coordinating emergency responders. The State Fire Service is also on the ground to prevent a possible fire outbreak.
Officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LATSMA) and police traffic section have also been deployed to the area to control traffic.
Armed soldiers and riot police are keeping vigil and preventing non-emergency personnel and suspected hoodlums from accessing the area as rescue efforts continue into the night.