LAGOS—Rescuers on Tuesday dug through rubble searching for survivors a day after a luxurious high-rise building collapsed while under construction in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, as officials put the death toll at 10 and scores were reported missing.
Emergency services used earth moving equipment to lift chunks of masonry at the site in the affluent neighborhood of Ikoyi after torrential rains pounded Lagos overnight and briefly stopped the search. Large trailers were brought in to help move debris, blocking one of Ikoyi’s main roads.
Building collapses are frequent in Africa’s most populous country, where regulations are poorly enforced and construction materials often substandard.
Lagos state government had sealed off the building in June for failing to meet structural requirements and demanded the anomaly be corrected before construction could proceed, state deputy governor Obafemi Hamzat said in a statement. He did not, however, say whether the problem had been rectified.
“Our focus right now is to get people out alive,” Hamzat said.
Ten bodies have been recovered and nine people were pulled out alive as excavators sifted rubble from the heaps of shattered concrete and twisted metal where the building once stood.
Hamzat said the number of people trapped was unknown but that interviews with workers indicated up to 40 people were on site when the building collapsed, much lower than the figure of 100 given by witnesses on Monday.
Agitated families whose loved ones were missing refused to speak to media. Some wailed and others prayed in small groups for the safe return of their relatives.
As tempers flared, others got into a scuffle with government officials, demanding to be allowed to help with the search effort.
New 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 Peckham and Hackney in Britain and that the Ikoyi apartments were the start of bigger projects he planned in Nigeria.
Osibona could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Local media reports said he may have been among those trapped.
A narrator in a promotional video on the Fourscore Homes Instagram page says the complex “bestrides the Ikoyi landscape like a colossus”, and showed the buildings as each having rooftop pools and being kitted out with luxury fittings.
Telephone calls to numbers listed for Fourscore Homes and the main building contractor did not ring through on Tuesday.
By Nneka Chile and Seun Sanni