UPDATE: 2 pupils dead, over 15 rescued in Ita-Faaji building collapse

…We marked the building, evacuated occupants in 2018 – LABCA

At least two pupils were brought out dead and over 15 others, including a teacher and some residents, have been rescued from a building collapse that threw Ita-Faaji community in Lagos into sorrow, Wednesday.

The three-storey building with a pent house collapsed around 9am when teaching sessions were ongoing at a nursery and primary school on the third floor.

The building also houses a convalescence centre and a provision store on ground floor.

Parents and relatives of affected pupils broke down in tears as the rescue mission deployed, including operatives of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Federal Fire Service and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), began searching the debris for pupils.

Onilenla Babatunde, an eyewitness who searched the debris earlier alongside Ita-Faaji youths, confirmed he brought out a dead pupil and countless other unconscious victims.

Babatunde said he heard more people crying for help, with the voice of a woman particularly begging.

“We have removed about 10 children. Some are dead while others are unconscious,” he said.

“The one I carried in my hands had his skull broken. His brain was outside and we had to cover his face with cloth. There is a provision store with one woman in it. We heard her shouting for help but we couldn’t hear her again later. I don’t know whether she is dead or not but I’ve told one of the fire service officers,” he explained.

Gbade Tola, public relation officer, Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABCA), told BusinessDay the building had been marked for demolition since 2018 because it was distressed, but the owner failed to comply with the evacuation notice. According to Tola, the owner will be charged for incidence.

“The building was already distressed and we marked it in 2018. We evacuated all the occupants but, unfortunately, they still came back there,” Tola explained.

“It is just unfortunate that some of those people still return. Once a building is distressed and the government has marked it, they should please comply,” he added.

Akanbi Adeleke, a Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps member stationed at Lion Building Area A, said the distress call came in at 9am after which the full patrol mobilised to the scene.

“I received a signal at Lion Building Area A that there is a building collapse at Ita-Faaji. We saw sympathisers trying to rescue the victims when we arrived. We have been trying to control them since then but they seem uncontrollable. Some people have been rescued and we have recovered some dead bodies,” Adeleke said.

Both LASEMA and the Federal Fire Service declined to speak on the incidence, saying the rescue mission was not over yet.

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