Schoolchildren trapped as building collapses in Lagos

Lagos: At least 10 children were among scores of people missing Wednesday after a four-storey building collapsed in Lagos, with rescuers trying to reach them through the roof of the damaged structure. The children were attending a nursery and primary school on the top floor of the residential building when the structure collapsed.
Police said they believed scores of people were trapped under the rubble.
The incident took place near Itafaji market on Lagos Island in Nigeria’s economic capital at around 10:00 am (0900 GMT).
In chaotic scenes, panicked parents, local residents and shocked onlookers rushed to the area as police, firemen and medics staged a massive rescue operation.
It was not immediately clear how many people were inside at the time of the collapse, nor were there any figures for the tally of dead or injured.
“We are still trying to find out how many are trapped inside,” said police officer Seun Ariwyo, who added that the number was probably scores.
He said “at least 20 have been brought out” but did not say whether they were alive or dead.
A young man helping rescue efforts who gave his name only as Derin said “at least 10 children” were trapped inside but “thought to be alive.”
An AFP reporter at the scene saw at least eight people pulled from the wreckage, including a small boy with blood on his face.
Covered in dust, he was alive but unconscious and appeared to be badly hurt. One local resident who witnessed the moment of collapse said there was no warning.
As rescuers worked furiously to reach those inside, distraught parents begged them to find their children.
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 to help the rescue efforts.
As the day wore on, an AFP correspondent saw several children being brought out, at least one of whom appeared to be dead.
Elsewhere, hundreds of local residents tried to help, passing water and helmets through to dust-covered rescuers working tirelessly to sift through the rubble, some of whom appeared to be distressed.
Many locals said that the building, which was in an advanced state of disrepair, had been “earmarked” for demolition by the authorities in Lagos state. Lagos, which has a population of 20 million people and serves as Nigeria’s economic capital, is made up of a collection of islands. — AFP