Rescuers were still busy yesterday at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun on the outskirts of Lagos where a building collapsed, killing 44 persons—as of yesterday. When the incident happened on Friday, 17 were said to have died. Many are believed to be trapped underneath the six-storey building.
The church has declined comments on the number of persons in the building when it collapsed. Besides, it insists that nobody died in the incident. Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola was at the scene yesterday. He called for an inquiry.
Government officials have said there was no approval for the Attention of additional floors. Commissioner for Physical Planning Olutoyin Ayinde, who was on Fashola’s entourage, said the church’s engineers were yet to present their permit to make such modifications.
Ayinde said: “Our meeting with the prophet was a closed-door meeting but it surrounds the collapsed building. It is a sad situation; lives have been lost and many others have been rescued.
“We use this opportunity to express our sympathy to the affected people.
“We have no proof that the church had permit to add to the existing structure. We have asked the engineering team to meet us and for about two hours now, no member of the team has come.
“We also have questions for them. Even if the building does not have approval, it ought to be built professionally. We have asked for their team and we hope in the course of the week, they would get to us.
“It is necessary to take the final inventory before we can say the number of people affected. Right now, we do not know how many people are involved. When a final inventory has been taken, the ministry of special duties will take a decision as regards relieve,” he added.
On whether the government plans to seal the premises, Ayinde said: “There are no plans for that yet until investigation as to the cause of the collapse has been concluded.
“I have said I have no proof of a permit. Maybe they have one and are yet to show us. We will give them the opportunity to defend themselves and action can only be taken after investigation has been concluded.”
But the General Manager, Lagos State Building Control Agency, Mrs. Abimbola Animashaun, affirmed that the church had no approval. She said: “We have investigated and found that they had no approval for the additional structures. Even the main church, which they have added about three floors on, was sealed two days ago, but it is now open. “You cannot have an existing building and start putting up more buildings on it. Before you can do anything like that, you must confirm that the structure is still stable and can stand additional buildings.”
The Nation gathered that the collapsed building, which was a three-storey that had another three added to it, had been vibrating for sometime before it collapsed.
It was also gathered that over 200 people were in the building, most of them having lunch at the basement, while the construction workers were on the sixth floor.
There were many foreigners, according to sources. Mattresses, clothes and other household items, including air-conditioners, were seen lying in the rubble of the building. Besides, a foul odour oozed out of the site. Fumigants were being distributed to the workers.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Red Cross, medical personnel from the state and federal governments and Lagos State Building Inspection Agency personnel were all at the site as excavation continued.
The workers were on the sixth floor, cutting the rods to create an opening to into other floors. The Nation gathered that all the 130 people rescued alive and the 44 dead were removed from the sixth floor and the basement, which are the only areas the workers have been able to access.
It was also observed that most of the pillars of the collapsed building were still standing. Confirming the death toll, NEMA’s Southwest spokesman, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the cause of the collapse was still being investigated.
“We were able to work overnight and so, as at now (6pm), we have 130 rescued alive and 44 dead. Nobody can say what caused the collapse. But from the footage shown to me, where all the foundation of the building was shaking before it caved in, it could have been caused by the additional structure.
“Investigations will confirm what really happened. You can see that some of the beams and blocks are still intact. So, some of the permutations cannot be ruled out.
“We are working on worst case scenario that the foundation might have been weakened, which would have led to the collapse.”