A high-rise building under construction collapsed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos on Monday, killing at least three people and dozens more are feared trapped in the rubble.
A yellow bulldozer cleared concrete slabs in search of people among the remains of the 21-story building in Lagos’ Ikoyi district, AFP correspondents at the scene said.
Rescue officials said “many” workers were trapped inside the building when it collapsed, although they could not confirm the number of people trapped or killed.
Dozens of angry residents gathered at the site shortly after the collapse, many crying and expressing frustration at the slow pace of rescue efforts.
Lagos State Police Commissioner Hakeem Olusegun Odumosu said three bodies had been recovered so far and three people had been rescued.
“Three bodies have been recovered and the operation is still continuing,” he told reporters.
He said it was too early to say what caused the building to collapse.
“Many workers are trapped under the rubble,” said Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, general manager of the Lagos state emergency management agency.
Soldiers kept away crowds of bystanders who were watching the rescue operation at the site, where the building’s concrete floors were sandwiched.
Four construction workers at the site told AFP that dozens of their colleagues were inside when the building collapsed.
“Like there are 40 people inside, I see 10 bodies because I climbed,” said Peter Ajagbe, 26, a local worker at the site.
“One of my partners is dead.”
Taiwo Sule, 21, another worker, said he had seen five bodies on top of the collapsed building, where he had tried to help retrieve them.
An AFP reporter at the scene saw at least one person who was pulled unconscious from the rubble.
“I feel very bad because the people inside have families,” said construction worker Latif Shittu.
The Ikoyi area is one of the wealthiest residential and commercial districts in Lagos, the main densely populated commercial city in Nigeria.
Building collapses are common in Lagos and other parts of the most populous country in Africa due to the use of substandard materials, negligence and non-compliance with building regulations.
In one of the worst construction disasters, more than 100 people, mostly South Africans, were killed when a church guesthouse collapsed in Lagos in 2014.