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Rising figures trail casualties at Ikoyi collapsed highrise as Lagos Govt orders probe

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Image Credits: REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja, REUTERS/Nneka Chile.

In picture above: People react as they gather at the site of a collapsed building in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria, November 1, 2021. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Various sources are citing increasing casualty figures as salvage work at the collapsed 21-storey highrise building continues.

While the Lagos State government on Tuesday said 14 people were dead as at 2pm, media outlets like Reuters and Channels Television gave 16 and 20 fatalities as the body count.

The Lagos State Government announced that it was setting up an independent panel to probe the collapse of the 21-storey building on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi.

In a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, members of the panel will be drawn from the Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and other professional bodies.

The panel is expected to independently investigate the remote and immediate causes of the incident and make recommendations on how to prevent a future occurrence.

The investigation is not part of the internal probe already being conducted by the government.

According to the statement, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has ordered the indefinite suspension of the General Manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), Mr. Gbolahan Oki, an architect, with immediate effect.

The Lagos State government said more equipment and personnel have been deployed in the site to save more lives.

The statement informed that nine men who had been pulled out of the rubble alive, have been hospitalised.

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The government has also announced that a help desk is to be set up at the site for people seeking information about their relations who may have been involved in the incident.

The government said it will embark on further foundation and borehole acidic level tests to ascertain the impact on the collapsed building.

These tests, particularly the borehole acidic level, is important for the entire Gerrard Road and adjoining areas.

As rescue work continued at the site, emergency services braced for a second night of work as earth-moving equipment lifted chunks of masonry at the site in the affluent neighbourhood of Ikoyi.

Large trailers were brought in to help move debris which had been blocking Gerrard Road.

The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat in a statement said that the Lagos state government had sealed off the building site in June for failing to meet structural requirements and demanded the anomaly be corrected before construction could proceed.

He did not say whether that problem had been rectified.

Hamzat who visited the site on Tuesday, later went to the hospital to visit those who had been rescued from the debris.

Reuters reports that among the dead recovered was the assistant of the building’s owner.

Hamzat said the number of people trapped was unknown but that interviews with workers indicated that up to 40 were on site when the building collapsed, much lower than an initial figure of 100 given by witnesses on Monday.

Agitated families whose loved ones were missing gathered nearby.

Some wailed and others prayed in small groups for the safe return of their relatives.

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As tempers flared, a few got into a scuffle with government officials, demanding to be allowed to help with the search effort.

High-end apartments have been springing up in Ikoyi, and the collapsed building was part of three towers being built by private developer Fourscore Homes, where the cheapest unit was selling for $1.2 million.

The project developer and owner of Fourscore Homes, Olufemi Osibona, told a local news channel in August that he had developed buildings in the London districts of Peckham and Hackney and that the Ikoyi apartments were the start of bigger projects he planned in Nigeria.

Osibona could not be reached for any comment on Tuesday.

Local media reports said he may have been among those trapped.

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