For the third time within 72 hours, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was at the site of the Ikoyi building collapse in Lagos to see how the search and recovery operation was being conducted, and also to boost the morale of the emergency responders on site.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the rescue operation, commending the first responders for their efforts. He also met with some of the distressed family members at the site, cheering them and raising their hopes, while the rescue efforts progressed.
Mr Sanwo-Olu was in the company of his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, at the site for over three hours.
The actual number of persons trapped in the collapsed 21-storey building remains unclear as of Thursday afternoon, but 32 fatalities have been recorded, the governor confirmed.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, while giving an update to the press, disclosed that family members had submitted 19 names of those still missing, saying the ongoing corona inquest on the bodies evacuated from the site was expected to be concluded by Friday (tomorrow) after which families would be invited to identify them.
He said: “Yesterday (Wednesday), we opened a register for people that have missing persons or loved ones whom they believed must have been at the site before the collapse. As I speak here, it is only 19 names of missing persons that have been registered. Some of them have pictures, others do not. This list would help us to get information on manifest of those at the site.
“As at this afternoon, we have recovered a total of 32 bodies. We are conducting a coroner inquest on the bodies and by tomorrow (Friday), we hope the exercise would have been concluded. That is the deadline we gave to the coroner so that the families can come and identify the bodies recovered so far.”
Earlier on Thursday, the governor visited Lagos Island General Hospital where survivors of the building collapse are being given medical attention.
One of the nine people rescued, Mr Sanwo-Olu said, has been moved to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Ikeja for advanced medical examination, but he is not in a life-threatening situation. Three survivors were discharged two days ago.
The governor said he had ordered a structural integrity test on the two high-rise structures in the premises where the 21-storey collapsed. The action, he said, is necessary to safeguard the lives of emergency workers on the rescue operation.
Mr Sanwo-Olu appealed to journalists covering the incident on speculative reporting and sensationalism, asking them to confirm any unclear details about the search and rescue operation from the official channel of communication. The governor was reacting to inconsistent figures of fatality being spread by the media.
He said: “Ministries of Information, Special Duties and Health are fully on ground at the scene. Among these key ministries, members of the public can get answers to any information not clear to them.”
The casualty figure given by the governor does not tally with that of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), one of the first responders to the incident. While Mr Sanwo-Olu maintained that 32 bodies have been recovered, so far, from the rubble, NEMA put the number at 38.
The multi-sectoral search and rescue operation was ongoing at press time. The effort is being led by teams of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), with the support of construction giants, Julius Berger, Craneburg, HiTech, and China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).
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