30 July, 2008

Fatal building collapse in Abuja

Rescue workers at the site of a collapsed building in Abuja
Eyewitnesses say 20 labourers were working on the building as it collapsed

At least one person was killed and several injured when a four-storey shopping centre under construction collapsed in Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

Emergency workers are trying to rescue as many as 15 people believed to be buried beneath the rubble.

Several others were pulled out alive. Rescuers are reported to be talking by mobile phone to a construction worker trapped inside the wreckage.

The building site was due to become the capital's largest shopping centre.

Falling debris

Eyewitness Mustapha Murtala told the BBC that there were about 20 labourers working on the building as it collapsed.

Reuters news agency quoted police as saying the number was between 40 and 50.

"There was a woman selling water in the building, she started screaming and the building collapsed," Mr Murtala said.

He said she was killed by falling debris.

The BBC's Andrew Walker in Abuja says building collapses have been common in Nigeria.

Two years ago the government promised to improve building regulations after hundreds were killed when a high-rise building collapsed in Nigeria's main city of Lagos


naija in world view said...

A shopping complex under construction in Abuja turned into a mass grave on Tuesday when it collapsed. It took lives, then buried hopes of it being the largest structure of its kind in the city.

It held captive more than 50 people, including workers and hawkers.

However, eyewitnesses put the total number of people under the building at 100. Only five escaped as it went down.

A man who identified himself simply as Emmanuel, a carpenter, said he went to eat and on return saw it collapsing.

He recounted how "we had to keep calling on the police, the FRSC and NSCDC for rescue, but after their arrival it took them over an hour before they could know what to do.

"It is very unfortunate, if it were to demolish buildings, the FCT government would be very swift about it, but now they are refusing to carry out a quick rescue of these people."

No victim, alive or dead, had been pulled out three hours after the accident.

Initially, most of those trapped reportedly made calls to their relations who had rushed to the scene to ascertain that they were alive. But the calls ceased after some time, an indication that many of them may have suffocated.

Located in the busy Jabi area of the city, the massive three-storey building crashed at 3.20 p.m. Residents said they heard a loud bang followed by a thick cloud of dust scattered in all directions.

A stampede was created as people tried to establish what was happening. Almost unheard were the voices of the workers and hawkers drowned in the dust and noise of the crash.

An eye witness said among those trapped were the numerous women and school children (now on holiday) who hawk wares.

"Only the road safety personnel, the police, fire service and members of the civil defence corps, who could do very little with bare hands, came on time" said a man who witnessed the accident.

At about 6 p.m., it was still expected that Julius Berger would go there with a more sophisticated machine to lift the wreckage so that rescue operation could begin.

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Modibbo Aliyu, arrived at about 5.05 p.m. and was quickly surrounded by relations of the victims and journalists who wanted to know what rescue measures were in place.

He assured that contacts had already been made with construction companies like Julius Berger and Arab Contractors to bring in their heavy rescue equipment which could lift the fallen mass of structure.

The owners of the building and contractors would be prosecuted as soon as they are identified, he stressed, and that stringent measures would be enforced to ensure that buildings under construction adhere to statutory standards.

Modibbo said before the end of the week, he would direct that the entire structure be demolished and that if any construction work must be done again, it must conform to established standards.

Most onlookers blamed the collapse of the building on the engineer for not making stronger pillars to hold the structure.

"We used to see the building everyday. I can say that most of the materials used in its construction were of inferior quality; besides I believe that such a massive building should have been handled by a construction company and not just any builder," a man said.

Chukwubike Okey Charles said...

The most deploring thing in this tragedy apart from the lives that can never be replaced is the fact that the the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Modibbo Aliyu ie the Governor was waiting for Julius Berger and Arab Contractors to come and do the rescue for the Federal government.
What is the preparedness of the Nigerian Fire service and other emergency units in a metropolis like Abuja; I do not even want to imagine or think of a situation like this in Enugu, Awgu or Nenwe.
These are the little but big yardsticks for measuring development and civilization, both mental and physical not necessarily the number of SUV (JEEPS) we own or that ply our roads.
May the souls of the dead ones rest in Peace
Charles O Chukwubike

Chukwubike Okey Charles said...
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