3-story Building Collapses in Nigeria With Children Inside

March 13, 2019 Updated: March 13, 2019

LAGOS, Nigeria—Frantic rescue efforts were underway in Nigeria on Wednesday, March 13, after a 3-story school building collapsed while classes were in session, with scores of children thought to be inside. Witnesses said nearly a dozen students had been pulled from the ruins, but it was not yet clear if any were dead.

Associated Press video from the scene showed a few dust-covered children carried from the rubble, to cheers. But the crowd quieted as other children were pulled out and slung over rescuers’ shoulders, limp and dangling.

Onlookers crowded around in the densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and a city of some 20 million people.

It was not known how many students had been in a primary school located on the building’s top floor. Some witnesses estimated as many as 100 children.

taken from video rescue workers and emergency teams work at the scene of a building collapse
In this image taken from video rescue workers and emergency teams work at the scene of a building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 13, 2019. (AP Photo)

It is not immediately clear what caused the structure to collapse.

Hundreds of people stood in narrow streets and on rooftops of rusted, corrugated metal. A single yellow excavator scooped at the ruins, a nest of rebar and dust. Later it began nosing at large concrete slabs.

In this image taken from video, people help a child after he was rescued from the scene of a building collapse
In this image taken from video, people help a child after he was rescued from the scene of a building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 13, 2019. (AP Photo)

Emotional, a number of shirtless men jumped in to offer assistance, hacksaws, and mallets in hand. Some were barefoot. One held a water bottle in his teeth.

Sani Datti, a spokesman with Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press that officials from the agency and other emergency services were at the site.

“For now we don’t have any word on casualties as we are still busy with rescue work,” he said.

Emergency services attend the scene
Emergency services attend the scene after a school building collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 13, 2019. (Sunday Alamba/AP Photo)

Building collapses are all too common in Nigeria, where new construction often goes up without regulatory oversight.

The collapse comes as President Muhammadu Buhari, newly elected to a second term, tries to improve groaning, inefficient infrastructure in Africa’s most populous nation.

“Nigeria’s infrastructure is generally less than half the size than in the average sub-Saharan Africa country and only a fraction of that in emerging market economies,” the International Monetary Fund has noted.

“The perceived quality of the infrastructure is low.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on April 30, 2018. (Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

There was no immediate comment from Buhari’s office. Instead, as the rescue work continued, the president’s personal assistant posted on Twitter a photo of a gleaming new terminal at the airport in the capital, Abuja.

By Sam Olukoya

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