One dead, 17 rescued, scores trapped as building collapses in Lagos

  • Speeding vehicle strikes pedestrians in New York’s Times Square, killing one

A three-story building under construction at Richard Abimbola Street, Ilasamaja, Lagos, collapsed, yesterday, killing one and trapping over 20 construction workers.

Seventeen persons were rescued alive at about 7.15p.m., with rescue work still ongoing at press time. Most of the workers were reportedly foreigners.

The lifeless body of one of the workers was brought out from the rubble at 7.55p.m. Work was reportedly ongoing, when the building suddenly caved in at about 2p.m. The impact of the collapse affected a nearby church, but there was no one in the church.

The collapse was blamed on substandard building materials. Residents also stated that owner of the building, who is on the run, bought an existing building and decided to raise it to three floors on the existing foundation.

When Vanguard arrived the scene, rescue workers, comprising Police, Red Cross, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA; National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA; Lagos State Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS; Fire Service, among others, were battling to rescue the trapped victims.

Vanguard was informed that the first set of trapped victims were rescued from the debris by policemen from Isolo and Ilasa divisions, who arrived the scene before others, with the help of some residents.

At about 4. 46p.m., 13 persons were rescued alive. Forty minutes later, one more worker was rescued alive, while another was rescued at about 6.10p.m. As rescue work was ongoing, one of those trapped under the debris was heard calling on rescue workers to come towards his side.

His voice became faint with time. As at 7.30p.m., none could locate where he was.

Some of the survivors were Sunday Gbose, 19; Chinonso Udeh, 37; Matthew Jimoh, 12; Monday Gadonu, 25; Benjamin Uchenna, 56; John Afolabi, 18; Dayo Fatau, 30; Ope Falolu and Agba Ogundele, 40.

In the meantime, a man drove his car at high speed onto a pavement in New York’s Times Square on Thursday, killing one 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 other people.

Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, said there was “no indication that this was an act of terrorism”, after observers initially feared a repeat of recent incidents in Europe.

The mayor said that authorities were none the less “reinforcing key locations around the city” out of what he called “an abundance of caution”.

“This is a tough day for New York City,” said de Blasio, who thanked emergency service workers who had been quick to arrive on scene to treat the wounded.

The driver, a US navy veteran named as Richard Rojas, was arrested at the scene and breathalysed. Rojas had prior convictions for driving while intoxicated, according to police. He was seen slumped as he was detained by several officers and led to a police vehicle.

The New York fire department said 13 people were being treated for injuries on the ground after the collision at the tourist site in midtown Manhattan, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors a day.

In all, 22 people were injured and an 18-year-old woman was killed. The woman’s 13-year-old sister was among the injured, according to authorities. Four people were critically injured but all were expected to survive.

The crash came shortly before noon on Thursday as crowds packed streets on New York’s hottest day of the year so far.

Abdel Dosokey, 20, told the Guardian he was working in a falafel cart at Broadway and 43rd Street, on the east side of Times Square, when the car crashed, sending pedestrians running and screaming.

“I saw a car go on to the sidewalk and hit a lot of people,” said Dosokey. “He went into the sidewalk and a lot of people were hit down after that.” Dosokey said police and ambulances arrived about two minutes later.

Rojas was driving a maroon 2009 Honda Accord. The car mounted the pavement at the west side of 7th Avenue and west 42nd Street. The vehicle ended up impaled on a bollard and tilted on one side, with its front windscreen smashed and its hood crumpled.

Vanguard with additional report from Guardian