No fewer than 12 people lost their lives in two incidents involving a collapsed three- storey building at Ikolie Street, Area 11 and an auto accident involving a trailer that crashed into about 14 vehicles at A.Y.A Junction, Asokoro District, Abuja, yesterday.
About 40 squatters were said to be residing in the uncompleted building when it collapsed around 5 a.m., trapping the occupants who included women and children.
Five persons, including a pregnant woman who later died from injuries from the concrete beam that fell on her, were initially rescued from the building around 10 am.
As at 2.30 pm, about 14 people had been brought out from the building and taken to the National Hospital for medical attention.
The structure, which collapsed at precisely 5:03 yesterday morning, is the third building to crumble in the territory since January. Seven people were rescued alive while about 35 persons, including children, were trapped.
A combined team of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps (NCDSC), Nigerian Police, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), Julius Berger Construction Company, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and some foreign missions were involved in the rescue operations.
The building, a hotel, was said to have been under construction since 2001 and was later marked for demolition by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) owing to the ownerâ€™s failure to meet required specifications. He was alleged to have added an additional structure making it a four-storey building as against the specified three-storey building which consequently collapsed the structure.
The owner was alleged to have challenged the matter in court which lingered until the incident occurred.
One of the survivors, David Ibrahim, said his younger brother, alerted him yesterday morning that there were vibrations around the building. On getting to the balcony of the second floor where they lived, they noticed that half of the structure was already giving way, prompting them to jump to the ground and safety.
Bruised all over, David said so many of their neighbours, mainly artisans and illegal occupants, were still trapped.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, condemned the incident and said the full weight of the law would be brought to bear on those that erected the structure.
NEMA boss, Dr. Charles Agbo, while regretting the unfortunate incident advised on the need for all the relevant agencies including the police, FCDA, to ensure that construction sites and uncompleted buildings do not become places of habitation for illegal occupants since these could harbor all sorts of criminals.
The agency in statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Segun Imohiosen, said NEMA working jointly with other rescue personnel have been able to rescue about ten people including a twelve year old boy from the rubbles on the collapsed structure.
“We have been able to rescue about ten people including a twelve year old boy. These ten people are alive but other three people were brought out dead”, he said.
He said NEMA in collaboration with other disaster management agencies undertook a search and rescue operations at a collapsed building site yesterday morning as soon as the alert on the incident was brought to its notice