In what can be described as a journey through the valley of shadow of death, a construction worker identified simply as Francis, was on Monday rescued from the rubble of a five-storey building that collapsed on Sunday at Adenubi Close, Ikeja, Lagos.
The building, a hotel under construction, collapsed around 3.30pm on Sunday, while Francis was rescued around 3.32 pm on Monday.
PUNCH METRO learnt that when the edifice fell, no fewer than eight persons were trapped, out of which seven were rescued a few hours after the incident.
On hand to rescue the lucky man were officials of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency; its federal counterpart, National Emergency Management Agency; Lagos State Ambulance Service; Lagos State Physical Planning and Urban Development Authority; Police; and fire service among others.
Francis was said to have returned from church and decided to relax under the uncompleted building, which later collapsed.
A building engineer, who craved anonymity, said the collapse was due to structural deficiency.
He said that the foundation of the building was faulty, noting that instead of using 20mm rods, the builders used rods of inferior quality.
"The irons they used are not the one expected for such an edifice. They cannot stand the weight of the building. They used 15mm rods and not 20mm that is expected of such a big building. As a rule, 15mm rods are supposed to be used when you reach second to third storeys," the building engineer said.
The engineer, who estimated the loss as being between N10m and N15m, urged Nigerians to conduct exhaustive interview builders before giving them construction work.
The General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, LASEMA, Dr. Oluwafemi Osanyintolu, confirmed to our correspondents that as at 2pm on Monday, the agency and other rescue workers had evacuated seven persons.
He said then that the remaining person trapped was communicating with them through Delser process (search and rescue equipment, which identifies the location of the trapped victim), adding that they would do all within their powers to ensure Francis was rescued.
Osanyintolu said that after the rescue, they would conduct investigation into the soil to be able to ascertain the cause of the collapse.
"It is after we have conducted investigation before we can ascertain the cause of the collapse. Right now, it is premature to apportion any reason for the collapse. We are here first and foremost to rescue the trapped victims. I can tell you that we are on top of the situation. We have the equipment and the manpower. Certainly, the last man trapped will be rescued," he said.
The entire spectators and rescue workers were thrown into jubilation when Francis was eventually rescued around 4pm.
A rescue officer told PUNCH METRO, "When the hammer was lowered through the hole that had been dug, Francis called out that the rescue team was in the direction where he was trapped. His voice appeared weak and people could only strain their ears to hear what he was saying.
"The rescue team then abandoned the equipment that were used to dig the hole and used their hands in order to avoid any fatality to the trapped victim. When the hole was wide enough, he came out with little support from the rescue team."
It was observed that Francis was too weak to talk to journalists. Besides, the emergency division team placed him on oxygen and took him away for medical examination.
One of the survivors, who refused to disclose his name, said that it was difficult to explain how the building collapsed.
He said, "The materials we used were not bad, the concrete was strong likewise the pillars. It is wrong to assume that we used inferior materials. Nobody can really tell where the fault came from. I thank God that I survived.
"We were eight, seven had been rescued earlier, but I am also happy that the last person has also been rescued. We were just relaxing while one person was sleeping under the staircase. He was the one that had just been rescued."
An eyewitness, who identified herself simply as Joy, said that when they heard a loud bang, they thought it was a bomb explosion. But after a while, people rushed to the direction of the building and discovered that it had collapsed.
"It could have been worse if not because it happened on Sunday when labourers were not at the site. I am aware that the building is still under construction and labourers worked there except on Sundays," she said.
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