At least four people have been killed and as many as 100 children are feared trapped after a building, home to a primary school and kindergarten, collapsed in Nigeria‘s commercial capital, Lagos.
The governor of Lagos state said on Wednesday that some people have been killed, but official numbers have not yet been released.
“We have rescued about 25 people, some already dead,” said governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The incident took place near Itafaji market on Lagos Island at around 10:00am local time (0900 GMT).
“Dozens of children were trapped inside,” Adesina Tiamiyu, head of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), which is supervising the rescue operation, told reporters.
So far, emergency workers had pulled 40 people alive from the rubble, some of them badly injured, he said.
But they had also recovered “more than four dead bodies”, Tiamiyu said without giving an exact figure.
Breaking: A 3 storey building with a primary school inside has collapsed in Lagos island at the Faji junction. pic.twitter.com/bDar8a1Vtr
— National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (@NISCN_Nigeria) March 13, 2019
Workers from the Red Cross and police shovelled debris away as thousands of people swarmed around the accident site, erupting into cheers as limp forms were pulled from the rubble.
Residents of the area said that around 100 children attended the school, which was on the third floor of the building. The structure also housed offices, shops and residential units.
School bags, toys and clothes could be seen among the piles of rubble as a bulldozer tried to clear a path through some of the wreckage.
|Locals began their own desperate rescue efforts before officials arrived [Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]|
While awaiting official rescue efforts, many locals and passersby began their own attempts to free people from the rubble, using their bare hands to shift slabs.
“I was passing by and heard a house collapsed. I had to straight away reach people living in there to rescue those that could be rescued,” a man involved in the rescue efforts told reporters.
“At least some people have been rescued and taken to hospitals. They are mainly students as there is a school there,” he said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from the scene, Tiamiyu praised the response of the local community, telling Al Jazeera from the scene that locals had “saved so many lives” before official responders arrived.
|Several people have been pulled from the rubble and taken to hospitals [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]|
Locals passed water and helmets to dust-covered rescuers attempting to sift through the debris.
One local resident told AFP news agency that the building collapsed without warning.
“We were smoking outside when the building just collapsed,” said Olamide Nuzbah.
As night fell on the scene of the collapse, bright lights were brought in to allow search efforts to continue.
“We will continue to go ahead until we are sure no one is buried under the rubble,” Tiamiyu said. “What the excavator is doing is carefully going through the rubble, clearing it and looking for possible trapped persons, either dead or alive, and once we see them, we will stop and bring them out”.
On the densely populated Lagos Island, buildings are often put up without official permissions or clearances, according to Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, speaking earlier on Wednesday from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Lagos is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, resulting in fierce competition for land. It is not clear whether the collapsed building failed to meet safety standards.
“It’s common to find schools in residential areas and in other locations that were not meant for educational institutions,” Idris said.
— Rapid Response Squad (@rrslagos767) March 13, 2019
Anna Cunningham, reporting from the scene in Lagos, said Lagos state governor promised a full investigation, but residents remained angry.
“Those that I’ve spoken to have been saying somebody needs to be held accountable for this, that they believe there were many, many children at this school. The building is about 30 years old and they said that it just simply wasn’t maintained. The atmosphere is tense, people are angry, they want to try and get as many people out of the building,” she said.
Lagos Emergency Management Agency’s Tiamiyu was also sceptical that the building met the necessary safety standards.
“I doubt whether the Lagosian government would have approved a school in a building like this,” he told Al Jazeera.
Building collapses are frequent in Nigeria due to weak enforcement of regulations and poor construction materials often used.
In September 2014, 116 people died when a six-floor building where a celebrity televangelist was preaching collapsed in Lagos.
Two years later, at least 60 people were killed when a church came down in southeastern Nigeria.
At least four people have been killed and as many as 100 children are feared trapped after a building, home to a primary school and kindergarten, collapsed in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos. The governor of Lagos state said on Wednesday that some people have been killed, but official numbers have not yet been released.