15 die as building collapses
From EMMANUEL UZOR, OnitshaTears flowed freely yesterday as a four-storey building under construction collapsed and crushed over 15 persons in the commercial city of Onitsha in Anambra State. Unofficial sources said the building located at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church by Old Cemetery Road collapsed due to poor construction and use of sub-standard materials.
It was gathered that over 15 labourers, who were said to be involved in some finishing works, including plastering were trapped in the building said to be near completion.
However, the Anglican Church authorities said only four people were trapped in the building.
According to sources, the building, which was being constructed by the Anglican Church, Diocese on Niger to serve as classroom blocks for pupils of St Christopher Primary School caved in due to apparent use of sub-standard building materials.
There were conflicting reports over the safety of the contractor handling the project as some eyewitnesses said he left the ill-fated building few minutes before it collapsed while others said he was still inside the building when it came crashing.
Some of the sympathisers said they watched helplessly while those trapped inside the building perished due to late arrival of the heavy equipment needed for evacuation of the rubble.
One of the teachers at St Christopher Primary School, who pleaded anonymity said some pupils had played inside the collapsed building during recess, adding that it came crashing few minutes after the bell signaling the end of the recess rang.
“This place has been where our children run into to play each time there was break. So, today, as usual, these children were inside the building playing and once it was 12.30pm, we rang the bell to call them back to their classes and shortly after that, we heard a loud noise with dust flaring over the entire compound. We looked with astonishment, because it was the building where our children were playing inside few minutes ago that collapsed,” the teacher said.
Another witness, who identified herself as Ngozi, said over 15 persons were working at various sections of the building before the incident.
According to her, those plastering the building were four including one person that was supplying them cement and sand while those working on the ceiling of the building were up to three.
“Apart from the four masons, there were other people including carpenters and those doing the PVC in the building. So, the casualty figure is more than four that the church told us. I was sitting here when the incident happened; that man whose hand you saw from the rubble was a man serving the mason men,” she said. The state Governor, Willie Obiano, immediately cut short his official engagement and ordered some major contractors working in various parts of the state to mobilize their equipment to the scene to see if any of the victims could be saved.
15 die as building collapses