Breaking: High-Rise Collapse, Many Feared Dead

Rescuers are digging through a pile of rubble in a search for survivors after a large high-rise apartment building collapsed in the Nigerian capital of Lagos. The collapse yesterday left at least ten people dead. Estimates for the number of people who may still be buried under the rubble have varied wildly between witnesses, relatives, and rescuers. Anywhere from several dozen to 100 people are believed to have been in the building, which was still under construction, at the time of the collapse.

High-rise crumbles in upscale neighborhood

The high-rise apartment building, located in an upscale neighborhood of Lagos, was known to have serious structural issues before the collapse.

In June the local government halted construction and sealed off the building in response to reports of severe problems in the structural integrity of the site.

The problem was evidently not solved but work on the high-rise continued regardless. The exact cause of the collapse yesterday is unknown.

Locals felt their buildings shake and heard a loud noise as the structure came down. An official rescue effort did not begin until hours after the collapse.

In the absence of an official response hundreds of locals began to dig through the rubble by hand in an attempt to find any survivors. Nine have been found alive so far.

Locals and relatives of the victims have expressed their frustration with the inept government response, which is still underway.

Thousands of flimsy structures in continent’s largest city

Building collapses are nothing unusual in Lagos, even in upper class parts of the city. Hundreds or even thousands of buildings are believed to be at risk of collapsing in the Nigerian capital.

The city is the most populous in Africa and it is growing very rapidly. It is believed that there are now something like 20 million inhabitants in the massive city.

Development and infrastructure have not kept up with this explosion in population. Demand for high-rise apartment buildings vastly exceeds the availability of suitable resources or architectural knowledge to construct them.

Combined with the fact that government regulations are routinely ignored and not enforced, this has left Lagos with a huge glut of flimsy structures ready to fall apart at any moment.

Ability and enthusiasm amongst rescue workers seem to be just as lacking as they are amongst those responsible for enforcing safety regulations.

High-rise collapses like this will likely become even more common as Africa’s population continues to balloon in coming years and cheaply constructed apartment buildings become more ubiquitous.

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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