At least three people have been killed after a high-rise building under construction collapsed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, officials said, with dozens of others feared trapped inside.
A yellow excavator pushed away concrete slabs in the search for people in the rubble of the 21-floor building on Monday in Lagos’s Ikoyi district.
Rescue officials said many workers were caught inside the building when it crumbled though they could not confirm the number of people trapped.
Lagos Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu confirmed three deaths, but added that three survivors had been pulled from the rubble in Ikoyi by Monday evening.
Officials arriving at the scene were confronted by crowds of people venting their anger that rescue efforts started several hours after the collapse.
Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said four people had been rescued so far and four bodies recovered from the site.
“We are also trying to bring in the military to assist in crowd control,” he said.
Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, general manager of the Lagos State emergency management agency, said “many” workers are trapped in the rubble, without giving a precise figure.
Four construction workers at the site told the AFP news agency dozens of their colleagues were inside when the building crumbled.
“Like 40 people were inside, I see 10 bodies because I climbed up,” said Peter Ajagbe, 26, one local worker on the site.
“One of my partners is dead.”
Construction worker Eric Tetteh said that he and his brother had managed to escape. But he estimated that more than 100 people were inside the building at the time it crumbled into a pile of debris.
The Ikoyi area is one of the wealthier residential and business districts in Lagos, Nigeria’s densely populated major commercial city.
Building collapses are common in Lagos and other parts of Africa’s most populous country because of the use of sub-standard materials and the flouting of construction regulations.
In one of the worst building disasters, more than 100 people, mostly South Africans, died when a church guesthouse crumbled in Lagos in 2014.