Despair at the site of the Lagos collapse as families watch rescue efforts

One of them was Zainab Sanni, 26, a microbiologist who worked with Fourscore Homes, the building’s developers, as part of the country’s mandatory youth services program.

On Tuesday, rescuers told his family that he had identified himself by name. Her family was among many others who yelled the names of their loved ones to rescue workers, who in turn said they were communicating with people under the rubble. It was a fleeting moment of joy and relief for more than a dozen families.

On Wednesday, rescuers recovered Sanni’s body.

Zainab Sanni, 26, was believed to be alive immediately after the collapse.

“I don’t know why they couldn’t reach her in time,” Sanni’s brother Fawaz told CNN. “If they had been working constantly, if they had enough equipment, they would have saved my sister.”

On Thursday, the death toll from the collapse of the high-rise building under construction rose to 32, according to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. However, the National Emergency Agency estimates the death toll at 36. Nine people have been rescued alive, according to official figures.

The laments of relatives of the victims filled the air as rescuers pulled corpses from the destruction on Wednesday and Thursday. Heavy construction machinery struck the rubble where dozens of victims have yet to be recovered.

“All they have done is remove the bodies from this place … they are not taking any precautions,” Annarita Iwelu said in a live Instagram video from the site. Iwelu is the sister of Samuel Iwelu, 34, whose body was recovered from under the pile of rubble and shattered steel on Thursday night.

Before his body was found, the Iwelu family remained near the site overnight, on vigil to identify the bodies and look for signs of life.

Rescue workers are seen on the rubble of a collapsed building in the Ikoyi district of Lagos, Nigeria, 02 November 2021.

“They are literally picking up and dragging things. Dragging rods from left to right and from the center,” Annarita said in a voice filled with indignation. “If someone is hiding somewhere … you will cover them, you will drag things on their heads. You would be the one who ends up killing them.”

One of the victims was confirmed as 26-year-old Oyinye Enekwe in a statement delivered by her family to CNN. He had started working as a personal assistant at Fourscore just a week earlier.

“Its light shone bright … The saddest thing is that it was also crushed by the greed, corruption and evil of elite business and government leaders running rampant without control in Nigeria,” said the Enekwe family.

The families seemed to sink further into despair as they watched the rescue effort. Annarita Iwelu also said she witnessed rescuers watching YouTube tutorials; the sight, he said, added insult to injury.

In response, Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu told reporters that another agency had introduced “very sophisticated” machinery and that some of the consultants were unfamiliar with it.

Onyinye Ekenwe, 26, who died in the building collapse, had started working with Fourscore just a week ago.

A woman threw herself at the governor’s feet. “My son is there! My son is there,” their pleas echoed amid the cacophony of bulldozers, which some of the relatives compared to a demolition process.

During the governor’s speech in front of the collapsed building on Thursday, desperate family members begged him for help in finding their loved ones.

The collapsed building, in the upscale Ikoyi neighborhood, was advertised as “Luxury in the Sky,” where the apartments cost $ 1.2 million per unit.

Locals criticized the slow response of emergency services after Monday’s collapse, with a witness telling CNN “we have waited four or five hours!”

Another man yelled, “People are dying!”

Desperate, several people resorted to pulling people out with their bare hands, pulling several people out of the rubble before emergency services arrived on Monday.

Ongoing investigation

The building had been under construction for two years.

The investigation into the cause of the collapse is ongoing and officials on the ground are assessing possible damage to surrounding structures, according to a statement from the Lagos state government.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the close-up of a collapsed building downtown in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

CNN contacted Fourscore Heights Limited, the parent company of Fourscore Homes, but had not received a response as of press time.

Building collapses in Nigeria have increased in recent years, often due to a lack of compliance with regulatory controls, poor knowledge of construction, and poor building materials.

In 2019, the collapse of two separate buildings, including one that housed a school, left dozens dead.

An expert told CNN at the time that more than 1,000 buildings were at risk of collapsing in Lagos.

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