ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Rescue crews were searching for survivors Thursday after a building collapse in Nigeria’s capital left two people dead while many others are feared trapped, emergency officials said.
The two-story building in the densely populated Garki district of the capital Abuja collapsed during a downpour late Wednesday, witnesses said. It served both as a shopping center and a residential block and some of those trapped were believed to be shoppers.
Nkechi Isa, spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the city said 37 people have so far been pulled alive from the rubble. She said the rescue efforts would continue until the rubble has been searched.
Crews used an excavator and a bulldozer to clear away debris in search of survivors. A large crowd of people who gathered on the street where the building had stood cheered as crews pulled out survivors. Others awaited news about their missing relatives.
Samuel Japhet narrowly escaped the collapse after entering the building to buy drinks. “We bought the drinks and left, it was not up to 30 minutes and it happened,” said Japhet. “People were there, all these places, people live here.”
Building collapses are becoming rampant in Africa’s most populous country with more than a dozen of such failures recorded in the last year, including earlier in August when a mosque collapsed in the northwestern Kaduna state, killing seven people.
Authorities often blame such disasters on a failure by officials to enforce building safety regulations and on poor maintenance.