*Emergency responders battle to rescue trapped victims
*Gov Sanwo-Olu orders probe, calls for calm
*’Owner of collapsed building got approval to construct only 15 floors, but built 21 floors’
Joy Joseph, Lagos
A 21-storey building under construction at Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, collapsed on Monday afternoon with at least three persons confirmed dead, and many others trapped in the rubble.
According to Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, South West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), no fewer than four persons have so far been rescued from the rubbles at the building as of Monday evening.
Eyewitness accounts had it that the building caved in while the perceived owner (yet-to-be identified as at the time of this report,) and some contractors and labourers were inspecting the site.
Three persons were also said to have been rescued alive as at the time of this report.
A labourer, who gave his name simply as Kunle, told the correspondent that no fewer than 40 persons are trapped in the rubble.
While Kunle said the building was upon completion supposed to house a multinational company, others at the site told the Daily Times it was supposed to be a luxury hotel.
The Daily Times reports that Emergency Responders led by the Director-General of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, as well as the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, were on ground at the time of this report.
Also at the scene at the time of this report were the Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Commissioner for Physical Planning.
According to an update on the rescue operation, LASEMA said: “The Agency has activated its emergency response plan to the scene. Search and Rescue operations ongoing.
“The Deputy Governor, the Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties & Intergovernmental Relations, its counterpart, Hon. Commissioner for Physical Planning and DG LASEMA are fully on ground.
“All first responders are at the scene while the heavy duty equipment and life detection equipment have been dispatched.”
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) team and that of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) were still on ground trying to rescue trapped workers as at the time of this report.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered a probe of the collapsed building which happened in the Ikoyi Area of the state on Monday.
According to a statement titled, ‘Sanwo-Olu Orders Probe of Gerrard Road Building Collapse,’ signed by the governor’s aide, Gbenga Omotoso, three persons have been rescued from the rubble.
Efforts to rescue other victims are ongoing just as the governor called for calm.
The statement reads: “The Lagos State Government has called for calm over the collapse today of a 21-storey building, which is under construction on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi.
“Lagos Rescue Unit (LRU), Lagos State Fire Service and Lagos State Ambulance Services (LASAMBUS) are on the site, battling to save the lives of those under the rubble. Three persons have been rescued, even as the operations to save more lives continue.
“The Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, has visited the site in the company of other officials, including the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako; Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr. Bamgbose- Martins; Special Adviser on Urban Development, Mr. Ganiyu Adele Ayuba; Special Adviser, GIS and Physical Planning, Dr. Olajide Babatunde; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs. Abiola Kosegbe as well as General Manager, LASEMA Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu.
“The Deputy Governor directed security agents to cordon off the site to facilitate rescue efforts.
“The General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Arch. Gbolahan Oki, was also at the scene assessing the site for any likely damage to the surrounding structures.
“A report of the investigations will be made public in due course.”
Speaking, the General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Mr Gbolahan Oki, says the owner of the collapsed 21-storey building, under construction in Ikoyi, was given approval to construct only 15 floors.
Oki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone that the owner of the property has been arrested and would face the law because people have died in the disaster.
“He got an approval for a 15-storey building and he exceeded his limit. I am on ground here and the materials he used are so inferior and terrible.
“The materials he used, the reinforcement, are so terrible. He got approval for 15 floors but built 21.
“I think he has been locked down. He has been arrested before now,” he said.
The GM said four people were rescued alive and three people died, adding that rescue efforts were still ongoing.
“We are still here and have four machines working at this moment,” he told NAN.
At least 50 people are reportedly trapped under the rubble after a 21-storey building collapsed in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The building, located at 20, Gerrard Road, collapsed at about 3 p.m. on Monday.