One person lost his life while four others were trapped when a three-storey building under construction collapsed in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State. The building, located at No 85 Azikiwe Road, by Asa Road, off Kent Street, in Aba South Local Government Area, collapsed after a downpour about 5.15am yesterday.
The building collapsed from the back while the front remained intact. One of those who survived the collapse, Uche Kalu, told New Telegraph that five other youths were trapped. He said was rescued by a young man. A yet-to-be-identified victim, believed to have died while trying to escape, was still under the rubble with a stretched out leg.
The survivor also said that the collapsed building had been under construction for about a year with some homeless youths using it as a shelter. Kalu could barely say anything audibly because of exhaustion. He, however, told our correspondent that he and some of the other victims were taking refuge in the building when it caved in. Kalu, who said he was a bricklayer, added that he was concluding discussions with one of the trapped victims about a job they were to do, when the building collapsed, separated them and buried him under the rubble.
The survivor, who had bruises all over his head, was later rushed to a nearby hospital by sympathisers where he was currently receiving treatment. Nine hours after the incident, no rescue team from the Abia State government was sighted at the scene of the collapsed building. However, members of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) who arrived at the scene about 8am, climbed into the building, but came down helpless as there was no excavator to help lift the rubble. The Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Builders (NIOB), Abia Chapter, Mr. John Ugwoeri (an engineer), said this was the fourth collapsed building being recorded in Abia this year. He blamed the state government for the calamity. Ugwoeri added that unless the government listened to the body and heeded their call to use professional builders, such problems won’t be averted. A member, Practice Committee representing Abia State in the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria, Mr. Wisdom Okoro (an engineer), called on the government to stop further construction of the building. Okoro, who said that the building had no professional builder attached to it, also urged the government to set up a panel to investigate the construction of the building to forestall future occurrences.