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26 Nov 2018

Rivers building collapse survivor recounts miraculous escape

A survivor of Friday’s Port Harcourt building collapse has revealed how he escaped being killed by pillars that fell from the seven-storey building that was under construction.

The survivor, Festus Chinonso, who spoke with our correspondent on Sunday, said he would have being buried in the rubble like some of his friends if not for a mysterious energy he felt in his body that enabled him to escape.

Chinonso explained that that though he was frightened when blocks were falling from the top floor, his instinct told him to continue to run.

He stated, “I fell as I was running and some of the small blocks began to fall on my body. But I was determined to escape as I quickly removed the small blocks. I stood up and began to run faster.
“It was not up to 40 seconds that I came outside that the entire building collapsed. I was feeling a serious pain on my chest, but I thank God for saving my life.”

He lamented that some of his colleagues, including Evics, also known as Kotonko, were still trapped under the rubble, adding that a roasted plantain seller and another woman selling African salad were still missing.

Chinonso added, “As I was rushing out, I saw Kotonko. His real name is Evics. He is probably dead now because I have not seen him since then. We were waiting to collect our pay after the day’s job when we heard a cracking sound.

“Some of us began to run because we believed that something was wrong. But I could not find some of us who tried to escape the building collapse.”

It was gathered that the death toll had risen to seven as of Sunday evening, even as workers, including operatives of the Red Cross, the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps continue to search for survivors.

Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike has ordered the immediate arrest of the owners of the collapsed building in GRA Phase 2 in Port Harcourt.

Wike vowed that the state government would bring those responsible for the collapse of the building to book.

He stated, “Whoever approved this structure and those involved in the construction will face the law. Government will take every necessary step to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.

“Whoever is involved, from the owner or the contractor to the officials of the state will face the full weight of the law.”

The governor also directed the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to set up a commission of inquiry to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of the collapse of the privately-owned seven-storey building at Woji Road, New GRA in Port Harcourt.

Wike described the building collapse as a sad development, which had led to the painful loss of lives.

He said, “I feel so pained that we have to face this kind of calamity at this time. I commiserate with the families that have lost their loved ones, who came to seek their daily bread.

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