The dilapidated building in the densely populated Lagos Island area of the city came down without warning on Wednesday morning. Locals, firefighters and other emergency services workers picked through the rubble to find those trapped in a chaotic scene.
School bags, toys and clothes were among the piles of rubble as a bulldozer tried to clear a path through wreckage.
A crowd of hundreds of people cheered on as dust-covered, shocked-looking children were carried out one by one. Other small bodies, however, hung limp over workers’ shoulders.
Shopworker Adeniyi Afolabi, who lives nearby, gave the name of the school as the Ohen Nursery and Primary, and said there were 144 pupils in attendance on Wednesday. Some authorities dispute that number.
Hundreds of families have been keeping vigil at the three leading hospitals in Lagos, where victims are receiving treatment. At the Lagos Island Hospital on Thursday, family members huddled around a list of survivors posted at the emergency unit. Some breathed a sigh of relief as they saw the names of their loved ones on the list while others continued to hope and pray they would soon have news.
- The southwest coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, said thirty-seven people were rescued alive.
- Farinloye told the Associated Press (AP) that workers had reached the foundation of the collapsed three-story building and did not expect to find more people.
- Nigerian officials on Thursday said they were halting search efforts a day after the school building collapsed.
- The building had been marked for demolition at least three times, a buildings expert said in an interview with the Nigerian News Agency.
- Lagos state Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode said the building, which had been marked for demolition, was classified as residential and the school was operating illegally on the top two floors.
- President Muhammadu Buhari has charged governor Ambode to ensure that such a catastrophic accident does not happen again in the state.
As of Thursday evening, there is mixed information on the number of victims rescued and confirmed deaths.
- AFP reports thirty-seven people were rescued alive on Wednesday.
- Associated Press (AP) reports that Nigerian officials said the death toll is eight and could rise.
- News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the school owner, pregnant woman, and 12 students died in the collapsed building.
- African News Agency (ANA) reports that as many as sixteen are confirmed dead and forty-one are receiving treatment.
- CNN reports that around 41 people have been rescued from the building.
The official twitter account of the Lagos State Government says:
The collapse came as Buhari, newly elected to a second term as president, tries to improve groaning, inefficient infrastructure in Africa’s most populous nation.
“It touches one to lose precious lives in any kind of mishap, particularly those so young and tender,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said.