Wednesday, May 8, 2013
One dies, others trapped as Foursquare building collapses
At least one person died, while several others were trapped in Lagos on Tuesday as a four-storey building under construction belonging to Foursquare Gospel Church, collapsed. The building on Bashiru Street, Berger, collapsed as some artisans were carrying out carpentry work on it.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the incident happened around 3.30pm.
The cause of the collapse could not be ascertained, but observers said it might have been caused by the use of substandard materials.
A 15-year-old apprentice, Joshua Ayandokun, who was among the artisans that were working on the building, escaped being trapped in the building.
Joshua was sent on an errand to buy bread and beans for others, but before he came back, the building had collapsed.
Joshua, who spoke with Punch Metro, said he was an apprentice under his elder brother, Idowu.
He said, “Around 3.25pm, I was sent to go and buy bread and beans with sachet water.
“By the time I came back, the building had collapsed. We were five working on the building. As I can see now, only one body has been brought out. I was not allowed to see if the body is my brother’s. I am very sure that three persons are still trapped in the building.”
The apprentice, who said he was living with his master-brother in Alagbole in Ogun State, said he feared his elder brother might be died.
“Just this morning, we spoke on so many things. He told me about his plans. But from the look of things, he has been buried in the rubble. This life is full of mysteries. I am still dumbfounded – I cannot comprehend what is happening,” he said.
But General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Femi Oke-Osayintolu, told PUNCH Metro that one person had been recovered while four persons had been rescued.
He, however, said their equipment indicated that some unspecified persons were still trapped in the building.
Oke-Osayintolu said, “With our equipment, we have been able to establish that some persons are are still trapped. We cannot ascertain the numbers now.
“But I can tell you that so far, we have recovered one body and rescued four persons. The rescue operations continue.”
However, Public Relations Officer, National Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, toldPUNCH Metro that so far one person had been confirmed dead.
He said their emergency search tap equipment indicated that some persons were still trapped but he could not ascertain the number.
He said the equipment could only detect flesh and blood but could not indicate if the person had died or not.
“We have our equipment intact. We will work until we are able to rescue all the persons trapped in the building. Our incidental vehicles are there as well as our floodlight for night operations,” Farinloye stated.
Building not approved by govt – Commissioner
Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Toyin Ayinde, said the construction did not have the approval of the state.
He explained that the area belonged to the Federal Government, which had been overseeing it for a long time.
Ayinde said, “We already captured the permit of Federal Government on the land. When we are able to get the owners of the building, we will be able to confirm if the building permit was obtained or not.
“We also learnt that the building has been on for some time. Until we are able to sight the building plans before we will know whether it was a two-floor building that was approved or four storey-building.
“What the law states now is that after due process and if the result of the investigation indicates that the owner compromises, the property will be forfeited. But if we are able to get the professionals in charge, we will prosecute them.”
Residents complain about late arrival of equipment
Some residents complained about late arrival of rescue equipment.
They said the late arrival had made it impossible for rescue workers to achieve some milestones in good time.
A distraught resident, who claimed anonymity, said up till 7pm, some heavy equipment, apart from one caterpillar provided by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, were not available.
He lamented that because of the development, some rescue workers were seen using their hands to carry heavy objects that could have been done by machine.
“I hope our attitude to emergency will change. The lackadaisical attitude to rescue operations should be discontinued. Imagine an accident of this magnitude; strategic machines are not available for rescue workers. This has hampered rescue operations. However, I must commend those who came to rescue. The zeal is all over them. Despite the absence of equipment, much has been achieved.”
As of the time of leaving the scene of the incident by 7.30pm, rescue operations were still ongoing.
Some rescue workers were overheard saying that the persons still trapped in the building.
Also, scores of security personnel and other emergency workers comprising operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Roads Safety Commission, LASEMA, NEMA and Lagos State Emergency Bus were on ground.
The operation was coordinated by NEMA and LASEMA while the police provided security as the exercise went on.