By Olumide Olukayode,
For Lagosians, the anguish and sorrow is rising concerning a four-storey building which collapsed on Lagos Island Wednesday morning. So far, no fewer than 18 persons have been confirmed dead while, according to the Lagos State Emergency management Agency (LASEMA) General Manager Adeshina Tiamiyu, over 41 people were rescued from the rubble of the building, which had been marked for demolition since 2014.
The building, No 14, Massey Street, Opposite Oja, Ita-Faaji, housed Ohen Private Nursery and Primary School on its third floor.
The structure caved in at about 10:20am with scores of pupils trapped underneath.
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris, who confirmed the casualty figure, said many of the rescued were taken to Lagos Island General Hospital, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), among others.
The high number of casualties sparked a shortage of blood with the general hospital calling for donors.
Idris said rescue efforts will continue today.
An eyewitness, Abayomi Olaniyan, said he was among those rescuing the victims before the official rescue team came.
Olaniyan, said: “Some were rescued alive, some dead. One of the teachers still called shortly that she was on the ground floor of the collapsed building, trapped with 20 pupils.
“Something similar happened around here last year. The issue of building collapse is common here and government must do something about it. Houses will be marked and due for demolition but they will not demolish it; they will renovate it. So many houses here are weak; they are meant to be demolished but they will tell you they are renovating it; they will only paint it.”
An eyewitness, Bola Ogunyemi, said: “The pupils were already lined up from their third floor classes when the school owner noticed that the building was cracking. Before the kids could be arranged from their classes, the building had collapsed”. The school owner and some kids have been taken to the hospital.”
The school owner was among the first casualties.
She was taken to the General Hospital, where she died after efforts by the medicals to save her proved abortive.
A distraught mother of two victims urged the rescuers to help bring out her son, Luqman, from the rubble.
The woman’s daughter, Tobi, had earlier been rescued.
Among the victims is a woman, who called his brother that she was still trapped.
She told her brother that the caterpillar was on their floor, pleading that it should be moved back.
“I am under the caterpillar. Help tell the driver to move back,” the victim under the rubble told her troubled brother.
An expectant woman was among those that were pulled out of the rubble alive.