18 August 2018

Nigeria: Abuja Building Collapse - Nema Confirms One Dead, but Residents Say Many Buried

One person was confirmed dead after a building under construction collapsed in Abuja on Friday, the National Emergency Management Agency said, but residents say at least 10 persons remained under the rubble.

At a press conference Saturday, Mustapha Maihaja, the director general of NEMA said besides the single fatality, one other person was critically injured and five others rescued alive at the site in Jabi, Abuja.

But residents rejected the claim, and complained about the rescue effort.

On Friday evening, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo visited the scene and commended rescue efforts.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Musa Bello, expressed sadness over the collapse when he also visited.

Rescue efforts were carried out by NEMA, FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Road Safety Corporation, police and other security agencies and fire service.

Earlier reports said two people died but NEMA said that could not be confirmed.

But multiple witnesses who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES insisted that more than 10 people were trapped in the debris as at Saturday morning when rescue efforts ended.

"From the beginning, the rescue mission was at zero level because everything has a plan," said Nonso Amado, a building technologist.

"The collapsed slab is supposed to be cut and then pulled out, the pillars and beans too. NEMA tried but there is no structural or rescue engineer on site.

"They were just doing as if it was our first time experiencing this kind of collapse or if we inherited this in Nigeria. They were supposed to have a good strategy. The first D7 caterpillar that was brought could not lift a pillar.

"The sad thing is the people are still trapped inside, the owner of the building is no where to be found."

Some bystanders including policemen who have been monitoring the rescue mission also spoke.

"Food sellers are under here, workers, the concrete mixers and there concrete mixing machines are still under there. Where are they? " one of the police officers asked rhetorically.

"At least let them bring out the concrete mixing machine so we know they have tried," another officer quipped. "They didn't do a perfect job."

"One woman was calling from inside, she said the heat was too much but now her number is no longer reachable," a bystander noted.

"They even helped to bury this people deeper into the ground because they only concentrated on the surface."

Mr Nonso, the building technologist also gave a possible analysis as to what led to the collapse.

"This building has been here for more than 15 years. The bearing of the land has problem. If the engineer knows that the bearing cannot carry the casting of foundation, they should have done more reinforcement before continuing.

"I tested the concrete and noticed a loss in the strength of the material. The ratio of mixing is not standard. The reinforcement from one level to the other is not standard."

He said the FCDA and other agencies did not do a proper check on the construction.

"FCDA might have done foundation test and first flow test but obviously didn't complete test on the other floors.

"They should have given a stop work order if they noticed the plan is not corresponding with what is on ground.

"They should also be coming here from time to time to question why this construction is poorly managed like this but obviously they didn't."

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