Survivors of the Lagos building collapse yesterday spoke of their terrible experience.
Bereaved families also recounted the death of their loved ones.
The survivors, who are in four hospitals, said they escaped death by whiskers.
They said they were busy with their chores when the building came down.
Many families flocked Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Massey Street Children Hospital, Lagos University Teaching Hospital and Gbagada General Hospital in search of their loved ones.
Mr Abideen Olawusi, a businessman and father of one of the victims, lamented the loss of his about-three-year-old girl, Qawiat.
According to him, his wife is traumatised by the tragedy.
“I am here to look after Qawiat’s injured sister, Rokibat. Rokibat is seven years old. Their mother could not come to the hospital because the death of Qawiat is taking its toll on her. She is traumatised and not feeling well. I left her in care of my relatives and friends to come and stay with Rokibat, who is injured,” Olawusi said.
According to him, Qawiat must have died of shock. “When they brought out her remains, there were no signs of injury on her body. She must have died of shock. I carried her, checked all her body, I couldn’t find any part of her body injured. We buried her this (yesterday) morning. It is a sad experience for parents to bury their child after years of suffering from her birth to that age.”
The three-year-old son of Mr Saheed Owolabi, an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Ayomide, survived the incident.
Owolabi said despite his child’s cry that he did not want to go to that school anymore, he forcefully took him to the school that fateful day.
He said: “What would I have told the world if he had died? That I forced my son to attend school the day the incident took place despite his refusal to go. My son insisted that day that he was not going to school. He said his teacher, Esther Ifeanyi, who was the owner of the school, used to beat him. Ayomide’s mother usually takes him to school, but when he was crying, I told his mother to leave. I carried him, promised to buy him biscuits. At the school, I spoke with his teacher and she promised not to beat him again. On my way downstairs, I looked back, my son was moody. He has not been that way before, so I promised to come and pick him from school.
“I went to work. It was around 10am that my wife called me that my son’s school building had collapsed. I was shocked. I ran to the school. When he was brought out, he sustained injuries on his head, eyes and cheeks. It was later that I learnt the school building had been marked for demolition. My son had been in the school since last year.”
Ronke Pedro told newsmen that she lost her brother.
“Our 97-year-old grandmother was also affected, but she is receiving treatment at the General Hospital. My brother, Kazeem, who is 37, died. They brought out his bodies around 3pm ,” she said.
She blamed the government for not demolishing the building after it was marked twice for demolition.
“Government should ensure those buildings that failed integrity tests are demolished. We lost a lot of lives here; many of them are our children. There are many other buildings on Lagos Island that have been marked for demolition but they are being repainted. We need to put a stop to this insensitive attitude that is killing us,” Pedro said.
Another survivor, Khalid Amoo, received a cap from Lagos State Governor-elect Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday when he visited the survivors with the Deputy Governor-elect, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, at the hospital.
Sanwo-Olu, Amoo’s aunt said, removed his cap and put it on the boy’s head.
She said he prayed for him that he would grow up to be a governor.
Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris revealed last night that the death toll had increased from 18 to 20.
“The last person that was brought out of the rubble around 3am was dead,” he said.
Idris said 42 survivors were being treated in six hospitals.
“We have some at Onikan, Massey Street Children Hospital four were referred to Gbagada General Hospital, eight were taken to LASUTH and one in LUTH. They are all responding well to treatment,” he said.
A building opposite the collapsed building was demolished yesterday.
Lagos Island East Local Council Development Area Chairman Mr Kamal Salau-Bashua, who supervised the demolition, said the building failed the integrity test.
He urged residents to give information on buildings with defects.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director (Search and Rescue) Air Commodore Akugbe Iyamu was at the scene yesterday.
He visited the General Hospital to commiserate with the victims, their families and the State Government.
He assured the relations of the victims that the Federal Government was working with state officials on how to assist them.
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