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Survivors recount narrow escape from building collapse

Ali’s wife PHOTOS: BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA

Ali’s wife<br />PHOTOS: BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA

It was a somber mood at the scene of the collapsed five-storey building in Lekki area of Lagos, as sympathizers stood still for hours watching with bated breath as emergency officials wade through the debris to bring out survivors and bodies of the victims.

It was one waiting game heightened with apprehension that is often interrupted with wailing and prayers. Their hopes were raised and dampened at the same time by the calls and wailings of trapped victims, who were calling for help.

However, in the midst of this waiting, tempers flared intermittently, as relatives of trapped victims felt that rescuers were not fast enough, especially when voices of trapped victims, who were communicating with them on phones, were waning.

Of the lot, the wailing of wife of Abah Ali, the security man in the site, who was also trapped in the rubble, was uncontrollable and unnoticed. Not even the presence of her little daughter mattered. She was still expectant that her amiable Ali would survive the collapse.

An eyewitness, Isaac Martins, said the nursing mother had visited to confirm that the contractors have actually not paid her husband. She came on Monday waiting for her husband to be paid on Tuesday when the building collapsed in the early hours of yesterday.

Chukwu Obazor, a witness said the building collapsed at about 3:30am, saying the victims all came out of the building when it began raining, but returned inside few minutes before the crash.

“I work in the site as a labourer. We were inside when the wind started to blow, then it rained around 3:00am. The building collapsed around 3:30am. We came out and the people inside the building came out also, but when the rain started, they decided to go back inside. It didn’t shake or give any sign so we were confused and we were running around to see if there was anyone trying to come out but we didn’t see anyone.

“I called emergency around 4:00am and went to pick the fire service at the junction. There were about 50 people in the building before it collapsed. There is a guy there with his wife and his son; he is also a worker. I hope they can all be rescued,” he narrated to newsmen yesterday.

The victims were mainly workers at the building, which belonged to Lekki Gardens Phase Two and located at Ikate Elegushi by Chisco bus stop, Lekki. The building was at the roofing level when it suddenly came down.



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