School children feared dead after Lagos building collapses

Geraldine Edwards
March 14, 2019

Children are among many people feared to be trapped after a building containing a school collapsed in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

Workers from the Red Cross and police shovelled debris away as thousands of people swarmed around the accident site, before heavy lifting equipment began to arrive.

Frantic rescue efforts were underway in Nigeria after a three-story school building collapsed while classes were in session, with scores of children thought to be inside. The structure also contained offices and residential units.

Scores of children are feared trapped after the school collapsed in Nigeria
Scores of children are feared trapped after the school collapsed in Nigeria

One bereaved relative, Bose Adeshida, said she had two nieces, aged 11 and 4, who attended the school. All we are trying to do is to scale up this rescue operation.

He said "at least 20 have been brought out" but did not say whether they were alive or dead.

A parents said to have five children in the school was seen crying, saying " I have not seen any of my five children in the school.

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Local resident Yomi Olaniyi, 42, said four buildings had collapsed in the area in the past few years.

Rescue efforts were expected to continue through the night Wednesday.

Footage from the scene showed a young boy, his face, arms and legs covered in dust, being lifted above the crowd and passed between adults to safety as people cheered around him.

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Many locals said that the building, which was in an advanced state of disrepair, had been "earmarked" for demolition by the authorities in Lagos state. An unknown number remained missing.

Building collapses are frequent in Nigeria, where regulations are poorly enforced and construction materials are often substandard.

In September 2014, 116 people, 84 of them South Africans, died when a six-storey building collapsed as a celebrity televangelist, Joshua TB, was preaching.

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An inquiry found the building had been built illegally and had structural flaws. In 2016, a church roof caved in on a crowded congregation in Uyo, a city in southern Nigeria, killing at least 160 people.

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