A four-bedroom bungalow, built on the hilly Ologo settlement in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State, collapsed Sunday night, killing a pregnant woman and injuring her husband and another tenant.
The woman, Mrs. Chinasa Chukwuka, and her husband were in their room, when part of the hill behind their house collapsed during a downpour and pulled the house down.
An eyewitness said that the woman died before she could be rescued from the rubble, while her husband, Emeka, was successfully pulled out, but fainted thereafter. He was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Their neighbours, Mr. Cyril Jaja, who occupy two rooms in the same house with his son, however, sustained a minor injury, but all their belongings were destroyed.
The owner of the building, Mr. Joseph Nwoye, from Ishielu in Ebonyi State, who resides in one of the three houses he built in the same area, said that the house collapsed around 10pm Sunday, shortly after he held a meeting with his tenants and told them to relocate to another apartment he secured for them after sensing that the building was in danger.
He said that during a downpour in Enugu last Thursday, a heavy stone rolled from the hill and hit the building, giving an indication that the hill could collapse.
He said: “When I noticed this, I called the tenants in the building, including the Chukwukas, and told them to relocate to another building within the area, which I secured for them but his wife (Chinasa now late) refused.
“She said that they should remain in the building. I insisted that they should move out of the building and called them to a meeting last night to tell them my decision.
“Shortly after I went into my house to pick something at 10a.m., I heard a loud noise like something heavy falling on the ground and I rushed out only to discover that the said building had collapsed.”
One of the residents also said that the deceased pregnant woman was completely buried in the rubble and it took almost an hour to pull her lifeless body out.
However, Mr. Nwoye (the landlord), who was arrested by policemen from Ikilike Police Station, yesterday and was being taken away when Vanguard arrived the scene, said amidst sobs that the woman’s death would have been averted if the family had heeded his advice to vacate the house.
Nwoye revealed that he bought the land, which is on the hill separating Enugu from Ngwo, from one Alhaji Sanafric, a native of Enugu Ngwo in 2011 and built three bungalows on it in 2012.
While he resides in one bungalow with his family members, the two other buildings were rented out to tenants, who had spent barely a year before the incident occurred, Sunday.
The landlord said that apart from the property destroyed in the incident, many residents of the area, who rushed to his house to help salvage the remaining property and those in his own apartment turned out to be looters.
According to him, most of his property, including electronic gadgets, were stolen. He added that when his first son discovered the looting, yesterday morning he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital.
Building on the hill
The three houses stood at the foot of the hill, because part of the hill was levelled before the buildings were erected as done by property owners in the hilly Ologo layout.
Experts said that residents of the area are living in danger as the houses could collapse with more downpours.
Efforts to speak with the state police spokesman on the issue were futile, but the senior police officer, who led the team that arrested the property owner, said he would be interrogated to ascertain if he had necessary government approval to build the houses at such a dangerous location.