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27 Jul 2017

Eight bodies recovered from collapsed Lagos building

Emergency officials have reached ground zero of the four-storeyed building which collapsed on Massey Street, Lagos Island, recovering eight dead bodies –five males and three females.
Some of the deceased were identified as Zainab Balogun, Ademola Taiwo, Olayiwola Sikiru and Lawal Mabolaje.

Fifteen victims, who sustained varying degrees of injury, were taken to hospitals for treatment.

PUNCH Metro had reported that the distressed structure collapsed around 2.30pm on Tuesday, trapping tenants and those who had come to eat at a canteen in the building.

It was said that a telecommunications mast recently mounted on the building’s rooftop contributed to the collapse.

Two bodies were initially recovered as of 11pm on Tuesday.

Our correspondent gathered on Wednesday that six more bodies were brought out as officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the state fire service and the National Emergency Management Agency concluded rescue operation at about 1pm.

An emergency official disclosed to our correspondent that preliminary investigation revealed that the building was originally a bungalow built about 40 years ago.

“The house was a bungalow built about 40 years ago. After some years, another floor was added and it went on like that until it reached four storeys,” he said.

Another official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the son of the landlord disappeared immediately the incident happened.

READ ALSO: Five killed as three-storeyed building collapses

“The landlord did not live in the building; his son was in charge. He is at large,” the official said.

The LASEMA General Manager, Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, said the majority of the corpses had been handed over to families of the victims.

“The remaining bodies have been deposited in the Ikorodu General Hospital mortuary. The injured are responding to treatment. Rescue operation has been put on hold until further investigation,” he added.

The spokesperson for NEMA, South-West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the vibration of a generator beside the “heavy mast partly led to the building collapse.”

He said, “According to investigation, any time the generator was on, the vibration affected the building. We are still waiting for the Lagos State Building Control Agency to carry out its investigation.

“The buildings near the collapsed one also look dilapidated and there is the need for integrity test to be carried out on them. When you build a house, there must be a three-metre distance from the fence and the next building must also leave the same distance. Between the two houses, there must be six metres separation, but that was not done in this case.”

Farinloye added that the change in the climate required that a building should be renovated every 10 or 20 years as a result of the volume of the rainfall.

The state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Wasiu Anifowoshe, said it had become necessary for Lagosians to raise the alarm whenever they suspected any suspicious construction within their vicinity.

The commissioner, who spoke during a visit to the scene of the collapse on Wednesday, asked residents to report owners and developers of controversial buildings.

Anifowoshe said, “My advice to Lagosians, especially tenants that live in these houses, is that if you see your landlord doing anything dangerous to your safety, please be a whistle-blower; let government know in advance. We were informed that this mast was erected two weeks ago. If the mast had not been erected, we might not have had this ugly situation.”LASBCA General Manager, Olalekan Shodeinde, warned building owners and developers to desist from erecting new structures on existing buildings without obtaining necessary approval from the government.

Shodeinde, in a statement on Wednesday, said the four-storeyed building collapsed due to foundation failure, adding that a thorough engineering appraisal and integrity test were required before erection of extra structures on an old building.

 “Several inspections conducted on the same property in the past did not reveal any sign of distress even though the structural members were constructed with gravel,” he added.

Also, the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency said it did not issue permit for the installation of the mast on the building.

The agency stated that operators were mandated to get insurance policies against injury or death of a third party, as well as damage to property, whenever a mast was installed on the rooftop or attached to the side of a building.

The statement read in part, “It is apparent that the installation of the mast on the collapsed building was carried out illegally and without the knowledge of LASIMRA because an application to install the mast on the building would have been rejected.”

The agency added that all cases of non-compliance would be reported to the police for prosecution.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said investigations were ongoing, adding that anybody found to have ignored government policies would be brought to book.

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