The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA on Monday confirmed the recovery of eight bodies, and 22 survivors from the rubbles of the collapsed three-storey building on Ibadan Street, Ebute Meta, Lagos, on Sunday night.
The Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service had announced the building collapse in a statement in which it assured that rescue operations had begun.
In a terse statement, the Fire and Rescue Service said “An alert of a collapse of a three storey building by 32 Ibadan Street, Ebute Meta, was received at 21:48 hours, Sunday with Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service already at the scene.
“A search and rescue operation is ongoing to rescue some of the trapped victims. It is a residential building that collapsed. More updates will be communicated.”
But giving an update on the incident on Monday, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, gave a conflicting time of the building collapse, claiming it happened at 10.56 pm on Sunday. Speaking on TV Continental, TVC’s all-female talk show, Your View, the director general of LASEMA, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed that eight bodies had so far been recovered, and 22 persons trapped under the rubbles, rescued. He disclosed that prior to the tragic incident, the affected property had been sealed up by officials of the Lagos State government. He complained about the attitude of area boys, whom he said hampered the operations of the responders.
According to the LASEMA boss, “The operation is ongoing. The incident occurred around 10.56 pm yesterday, and since then, all the combined team; all the key stakeholders that are important in managing emergencies, have been on the ground. The team was led by the honourable commissioner of special duty, Engr. Bamgbose Martins. With this combined effort, we were able to rescue 20 people alive. Out of the 20 people that were rescued alive, two sustained severe injuries, and they have been referred to Lagos State Teaching Hospital for further treatment.
“However, it is important to note that we recovered eight bodies. One important thing that we need to gather from this incident: one, the government stakeholders, the LABSCA, in as much as we sympathise with people that lost their beloved ones in this incident, it is important to know that the government had sealed the place up and they had compelled people living in this building to leave the place. The building was marked.
“Secondly, when all the emergency responders were on the ground, we had tough time with the area boys in that place. We had to beef up our security apparatus, and this was led by the RRS and the task force. And the crowd control initially was poor, but within 30 minutes we got there, we were able to surmount it. It is important to note that our operation was swift, prompt, effective and efficient”.
Debunking social media reports that they arrived late, Oke-Osayintolu stated that the information was “poor and false”, stressing that one of the challenges that confronted them was people giving different conflicting information. He insisted that “We got there early; that is why we were able to save 22 (contrary to the initial figure of 20 he gave earlier) people from the rubbles. Twenty-two were saved from the rubbles – 21 male, and one female. And the operation that commenced yesterday is still ongoing; we are still on the ground. You can see that some information given on the social media were false”.
He said more sophisticated equipment that could detect live bodies under the rubbles would be needed in the rescue operation as there were indications that more people were still trapped underneath the collapsed building. He however assured that they would get to ground zero completely before leaving the site. “We are on ground zero in some part; there are parts that we are not yet there, but very soon, we are going to be in ground zero”, he stated.
Expressing concern about the activities of area boys, Oke-Osanyintolu expressed the need for them to be sensitised to change their attitude. He said “There must be a sort of sensitisation; there must be something you need to do to inform them that whenever we are working, they should give way. That is number one; because we experienced this thing yesterday where the area boys were throwing stones; the area boys want to dominate. The area boys did not want us to use sophisticated equipment”.
He recalled how “about five days ago, around Isolo area when a tanker overturned, they were demanding money from us; that we should pay ₦500,000 before we could work. So, all of us need to come together and condemn this act”.