According to witnesses and hospital sources, a pregnant woman, the proprietor of the nursery/Primary school and 19 others, including no fewer than 12 pupils, have died in the school building that collapsed at Massey Street, Itafaji on Lagos Island on Wednesday.
However, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said eight persons died, while 34 others were rescued in the wreckage of the building that collapsed at about 10 am.
The South-West Zonal Head of Public Affairs of the Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the rescue operation was ongoing as at 8 pm, yesterday night.
According to NAN, most of the victims were rescued from the rubble on Wednesday but died at the General Hospital as doctors could not save them.
A pregnant woman was one of the persons rescued from the rubble immediately after the building collapsed, but she died in the hospital.
Other persons reported dead as at 8pm included the proprietress of the school, Ohen Nursery and Primary School, about 12 pupils and some other occupants of the building.
It was gathered that about 10 different families occupied the first and the ground floors, while the school occupied the second and fourth floors.
The building at 63 Massey Street, it was learned, had been marked for demolition by officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency. But the occupants of the building reportedly frustrated the demolition plan.
17 of the rescued students and occupants of the building were taken to Massey Children Hospital, very close to the scene, while others were taken to the Lagos Island General Hospital on Broad Street.
A worker at the Massey Children Hospital, who spoke with NAN on condition of anonymity, said four out of those brought in died a few minutes after.
The medical staff claimed that six of those who were rushed to the Lagos Island General Hospital also died.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who visited the scene, said the government would ensure that the trapped victims were rescued
Distraught parents of pupils and residents of the building jammed the scene of the rescue operation hoping that their children and relatives would come out alive.
Bukola Salami, a former staff teacher in the school who spoke with NAN, said the proprietress of the school had been told to vacate the building but she refused, saying she had no money to rent another place.
”It was because of the situation of the building that forced me to resign from the school in December because I don’t want to risk my life,” Salami said.
“It is unfortunate that such an incident happened. It looks like a dream to me.”
An occupant of the now-collapsed building, who simply gave his name as Akin, said the building was marked for demolition but that the developer found a way to stop the demolition.
Akin explained that he had gone to work when he received the news of the incident. Also, he stated that the owner did some renovation two years ago.
A neighbour Adewale Owoso likened the moment the building collapsed to a bomb explosion.
“We were just sitting down in front of the school when we heard a loud sound,” he said.
“We all ran into different directions but after the dust had settled, we realised that it was the building that collapsed.
“We quickly mobilised and began some rescue operation and we had rescued more than twenty people before the emergency workers arrived.”
Another witness Aishat Onilenla said three of her sister’s children were trapped in the collapsed building. “My friend has seven children also trapped in the rubble,” she added.
“I don’t know how she is going to survive it. It is too big for her to bear.”
The deputy speaker of the State House of Assembly, Wasiu Esinlokun, who visited the scene, said a notice for demolition was served on the building on Tuesday, a day before the building collapsed.
Esinlokun, speaking with journalists, noted that the Lagos State Government would ensure that victims of the incident get free treatment.