Building collapses are frequent in Nigeria due to poor construction materials and weak enforcement of regulations [Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]

As many as 100 children and many others are feared trapped after a four-storey building, home to a primary school and kindergarten, collapsed in Nigeria‘s commercial capital, Lagos.

The governor of Lagos state said on Wednesday that some people have been killed, but official numbers have not yet been released. 

“We have rescued about 25 people, some already dead,” said governor Akinwunmi Ambode. 

The incident took place near Itafaji market on Lagos Island at around 10:00am local time (0900 GMT)

Workers from the Red Cross and police shovelled debris away as thousands of people swarmed around the accident site, erupting into cheers as limp forms were pulled from the rubble.

“It is believed that many people, including children, are currently trapped in the building,” said Ibrahimi Farinloye, a spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency’s southwest region, adding that casualty figures were not yet available. 

Breaking: A 3 storey building with a primary school inside has collapsed in Lagos island at the Faji junction. pic.twitter.com/bDar8a1Vtr

— National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (@NISCN_Nigeria) March 13, 2019

Residents of the area said that around 100 children attended the school, which was on the third floor of the building. The structure also housed offices, shops and residential units. 

School bags, toys and clothes could be seen among the piles of rubble as a bulldozer tried to clear a path through some of the wreckage. 

Rescue efforts continue Locals began their own desperate rescue efforts before officials arrived [Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]

Panicked parents, local residents and shocked onlookers thronged the site, shouting and trying to assist with rescue efforts. At least one fight broke out in the crowd amid high tensions.

While awaiting official rescue efforts, many locals and passersby began their own attempts to free people from the rubble, using their bare hands to shift slabs. 

“I was just passing by, I heard a house had collapsed, so I had to straight away reach people living in there to rescue those that could be rescued,” a man involved in the rescue efforts told reporters. 

“At least some people have been rescued and taken to hospitals, mainly they’re students as there is a school there,” the man said. 

Several people have been pulled from the rubble and taken to hospital [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Locals passed water and helmets to dust-covered rescuers attempting to sift through the debris.

One local resident told AFP news agency that the building collapsed without warning.

“We were smoking outside when the building just collapsed,” Olamide Nuzbah said. 

Frequent collapses

On the densely-populated Lagos Island, buildings are often put up without official permissions or clearances, according to Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Lagos is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, resulting in fierce competition for land. It is not clear whether the collapsed building failed to meet safety standards.  

“It’s common to find schools in residential areas and in other locations that were not meant for educational institutions,” Idris said. 

Rescue getting easier with the deployment of sophisticated gadgets. @lasemasocial @fedfirelagos pic.twitter.com/lghH50V7sp

— Rapid Response Squad (@rrslagos767) March 13, 2019

Journalist Anna Cunningham, reporting live from the scene in Lagos for Al Jazeera said the Lagos state governor had promised a full investigation, but residents remained angry. 

“Those that I’ve spoken to have been saying that somebody needs to be held accountable for this, that they believe there were many, many children

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Deaths reported in Nigeria school building collapse


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