10 trapped, 2 survived in Onitsha building collapse


File photo: Remains of the building housing a school at Ita-Faaji Street, Lagos Island on  March 15, 2019.


By Sunny A. David, Onitsha

About 10 persons were trapped while two people were rescued as a three storey building under construction collapse in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State.

The building collapsed at about 1.30 pm on Wednesday when workers were busy carrying out construction work. The building is located at Ezenwa Street by Ogalanya Street junction.

Hundreds of people gathered around the scene as rescue workers and sympathizers scramble to pull out trapped people, one of whom is suspected to be the site engineer.

As at the time of filing this report rescue operation was still being done by manual labour as no government official that could provide excavating machine has visited the scene of the collapse building.

Even one hour after the incident occurred there was no equipment like excavator for the rescue operation, which elicited outrage by sympathizers against the government.

The visibly angry and frustrated Chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Prof. Peter Emeka Katchy, who supervised the rescue of the two victims said that they have been taken to the intensive care unit of the General Hospital, Onitsha.

However, Prof. Katchy who was very angry and frustrated that up till 4.30 pm, there is no rescue equipment for excavation to bring out the remaining people trapped in the unfortunate building collapse.

He said that he has made several calls to respective government agencies for excavators to be provided without any fruitful result.

The Executive  Director, Anambra State Emergency Management Agency, (SEMA) Chief Cy Agupugo and the Executive Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on SEMA, Chief Emeka Obinwa were also at the scene of the incident making frantic efforts and calls to ensure rescue of the victims.

They were however handicapped by lack of equipment for the rescue mission they were however seen encouraging the youths engaged in the rescue activities.

However manual efforts was being used by some youths in the area for rescue operation, who were later joined by the officials Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra State (OCHA) Brigade operatives.

The efforts of both the youths and the OCHA Brigade was yet to yield any positive result towards rescuing the trapped people, as they have not been able to remove the debris which trapped the workers.

Some of the youth carrying the rescue operation said the handsets of the trapped workers were ringing but how to get to them was too difficult without an excavating machine.

The Divisional Police Officer, (DPO), Central Police Station, CPS Ifeanyi Iburu, said  he had called the Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government Area, Mr. Patrick Aghamba, to arrange for an excavator, saying that the manual effort would not take them anywhere in the rescue operations.

However, Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government, Hon. Aghamba who visited the scene of the incident at about 3pm immediately left to mobilize excavating machines was yet to return with any as of the time filing this report.

Hundreds of sympathizers were still gathered around the scene bemoaning the incident and condemning alleged greed by builders who want to build houses to heaven without proper and standard equipment.

The crowd of sympathizers at the scene of the incident kept increasing as the traders from the nearby markets, including Onitsha Main Market, Ose Okwodu Market, Marine Modern Market and Ochanja Central Market, closed for the day’s business and troop to the scene of the incident.

No help as regards the provision of excavating machines for the rescue operation had come as of the filing this report as youths were still making use of manual labour to carry out the rescue mission.

Some of the residents of the area especially women who thronged the place where wailing as rescue efforts were being delayed, while others found the situation as an opportunity to lash  for alleged incompetence and insensitivity to the people.

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