Africa

Building collapse in Nigeria capital kills 14

  • 13 August 2010
  • From the section Africa
Rescue workers at the site of the building collapse in Abuja (12 August 2010)
Image caption A minister said Wednesday's collapse was the third in the city in three months

Rescue efforts are continuing in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, after a condemned building collapsed, killing at least 14 people.

The building, said to be three to five storeys high, fell down on Wednesday in the Garki district. Locals said around 50 people had been squatting inside.

Officials said people had been told the structure was unsound, but that they had ignored the warning to vacate it.

But survivors insisted they had not been aware of the risk of collapse.

The frequent use of substandard materials and violation of building regulations mean building collapses are relatively common in Nigeria.

Federal Capital Territory Minister Bala Mohammed said Wednesday's collapse was the third in the city since he took office three months ago.

Additional floor

Mr Mohammed, who is responsible for development in Abuja, said the developers of the building in Garki had continued to build an additional floor despite being told by the authorities that the structure was unsafe.

Image caption At least 12 people have so far been pulled out from the rubble alive

"We had issued a warning that the place should be evacuated. Most of the people there are illegal and the developer did not heed the warnings," he told the Reuters news agency while visiting the site on Wednesday.

Hussaini Abubakar, a student who was living in the building, said he had just finished praying at dawn and was preparing to begin fasting on the first day of Ramadan when the building began to shake.

"The building started coming down. I just picked up my phone, one shirt and jumped down from the second floor," he told Reuters.

It took less than five minutes for the building to collapse.

Vivian Rogunwa, whose sister and four-year-old nephew were among those killed, rejected the government's assertion that residents had been told of the danger, saying "there was nothing like that".

"The building did not give anybody any sign that it was going to fall," she told the AFP news agency.

At least 12 people have so far been pulled out from the rubble alive. Rescuers said the operation had been hampered by a lack of equipment.

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