Rescuers search for survivors after Lagos building collapse kills six

By Nneka Chile

LAGOS (Reuters) -Rescuers on Tuesday dug through rubble searching for survivors a day after a luxurious high-rise building collapsed while under construction in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, as officials put the death toll at six and scores were reported missing.

Emergency services used earth moving equipment to lift chunks of masonry at the site in the affluent neighborhood of Ikoyi after torrential rains pounded Lagos overnight and briefly stopped the search. Large trailers were brought in to help move debris, blocking one of Ikoyi’s main roads.

Building collapses are frequent in Africa’s most populous country, where regulations are poorly enforced and construction materials often substandard.

“Currently all responders are on the ground as search and rescue is ongoing,” Lagos state official Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu said, adding that the death toll stood at six.

Seven people have so far been rescued alive as excavators sifted rubble from the heaps of shattered concrete and twisted metal that engulfed the site where the building once stood.

Witnesses say up to 100 people were missing after the luxury residential structure crumbled, trapping workers under a pile of rubble.

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for rescue efforts to be stepped up.

Agitated families whose relatives and loved ones were missing refused to speak to media, although they could be heard accusing emergency services of lacking urgency after rescue efforts were briefly halted due to the rains.

New high-end apartments have been springing up in Ikoyi, and the collapsed building was part of three towers being built by private developer Fourscore Homes, where the cheapest unit was selling for $1.2 million.

The project developer and owner of Fourscore Homes, Olufemi Osibona told a local news channel in August that he had developed buildings in Peckham and Hackney in Britain and that the Ikoyi apartments were the start of bigger projects he planned in Nigeria.

Osibona could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Some local media reports said he may have been among those trapped.

A narrator in a promotional video on Fourscore Homes Instagram page says the complex “bestrides the Ikoyi landscape like a colossus,” and showed the buildings as each having rooftop pools and being kitted out with luxury fittings.

Telephone calls to numbers listed for Fourscore Homes and the main building contractor did not ring through on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Libby George in Lagos and Chijioke Ohuocha in Abuja, Editing by Clarence Fernandez, William Maclean)

One trapped, several hurt in Washington building collapse

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Search and rescue crews were attempting on Thursday to free a construction worker trapped inside a partially-built five-story building that collapsed during a rain storm in Washington.

Four other construction workers were removed from the debris shortly after the building in the U.S. capital came down at about 3:30 pm (1930 GMT), said John Donnelly, assistant chief of D.C. Fire and EMS.

The rescued workers were taken from the scene about 5 miles (8 km) north of the Capitol building to a local hospital. They had non-life-threatening injuries, Donnelly said.

The trapped worker was conscious and in contact with fire crews as they sought to free him from the rubble, Donnelly said, adding: “We are talking to him and I view that as a good thing.”

Images showed dozens of firefighters swarming over piles of wood left behind by the collapse, using saws and heavy equipment to move large pieces.

Last week, a condominium tower collapsed in Surfside, Florida as most residents slept. Searchers there have recovered 18 bodies and say another 145 people remain missing.

President Joe Biden traveled to the scene of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Florida on Thursday.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Rescue workers make slow progress at Florida building collapse

By Gabriella Borter

SURFSIDE, Fla. (Reuters) -Search-and-rescue operations stretched into a sixth day on Tuesday at the site of an oceanside Florida condominium complex that partially collapsed, although with no survivors found since last week hopes are dim for the 150 people still missing.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters that no bodies had been recovered from the rubble since Monday, keeping the official death toll at 11.

What caused a major section of the 40-year-old high-rise to crumble into a heap remains under investigation. Initial attention has focused on structural deficiencies described in a 2018 engineer’s report.

In April 2021, the condo association president warned residents that concrete damage had “gotten significantly worse” along with roof damage, and urged them to pay some $15 million in assessments needed to make repairs, media reported.

Authorities on Tuesday held out the possibility that survivors might yet be found in the pile of concrete and twisted metal left when nearly half of the tower abruptly caved in on itself.

“The way I look at it as an old Navy guy is that when somebody is missing in the military, you’re missing until you’re found, and we don’t stop the search,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “Those first-responders are breaking their back, trying to find anybody they can.”

Officials said late on Monday that emergency teams were still treating the round-the-clock operation – which has employed dog teams, cranes and infrared scanners – as a search-and-rescue effort.

But no one has been extricated alive from the ruins of the oceanfront Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, adjacent to Miami Beach, since a few hours after one side of the high-rise collapsed early Thursday morning as residents slept.

Fire officials have spoken of detecting faint sounds from inside the rubble pile and finding voids deep in the debris large enough to possibly sustain life.

“Not to say that we have seen anyone down there, but we’ve not gotten to the very bottom,” Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told reporters on Monday.

President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden will visit Surfside on Thursday, the White House said.

“They want to thank the heroic first responders, search-and-rescue teams and everyone who has been working tirelessly around the clock, and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

The disaster has led officials in nearby areas scrambling to check the safety of buildings.

Miami Beach, just to the south of Surfside, has ordered a “walkthrough visual” inspection of about 500 multi-family commercial units over the next week, Mayor Dan Gelber said.

“But at the same time we are going to require within probably three weeks, all of these buildings in the recertification process to come up with an updated report,” Gelber told CNN.

The tragedy may end up ranking as the greatest loss of life from an accidental building collapse in U.S. history.

Crowds of rescue workers were standing on top of the debris pile on Tuesday morning, sifting through the rubble. Scattered thunderstorms are expected on Tuesday, potentially slowing search efforts.

A makeshift memorial a block from the site held bouquets of fresh hydrangeas tucked into a chain-link fence. A poster board with hearts had a message for the first responders: “Thank you for looking for my grandmother.”


The 2018 engineer’s report warned of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab beneath the pool deck and concrete deterioration, including exposed rebar, in the underground parking garage. The report’s author, Frank Morabito, wrote that the deterioration would “expand exponentially” if not repaired.

In April 2021, the condo association president informed residents that the concrete damage had “gotten significantly worse,” along with roof damage, and urged them to pay around $15 million in assessments needed to make repairs, according to a letter obtained by the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and seen by Reuters.

“It’s all starting to come together now, because like I’ve said all along, there was something very, very wrong at this building,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN on Tuesday when asked about the letter. “Buildings in America just don’t fall down like this.”

Burkett said the condominium association officials probably did not grasp the “intensity” of the issue. “Obviously, that was a fatal mistake,” he said.

A lawyer who works with the association, Donna DiMaggio Berger, previously said the issues outlined in the 2018 report were typical for older buildings in the area.

Ross Prieto, then Surfside’s top building official, met residents weeks after the report was produced and assured them the building was “in very good shape,” according to minutes of the meeting released on Monday.

Reuters was unable to reach Prieto, who is no longer employed by Surfside. He told the Miami Herald newspaper he did not remember getting the report.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in Surfside, Florida; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Brad Heath, Peter Szekely, Kanishka Singh and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Joseph Ax and Alistair Bell; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O’Brien)

100 children, many others feared trapped in collapse of Nigeria building that housed school

Men carry a boy who was rescued at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

By Nneka Chile and Temilade Adelaja

LAGOS (Reuters) – As many as 100 children and many others were feared trapped on Wednesday after a building containing a primary school collapsed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos.

People gather as rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

People gather as rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building containing a school in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, Nigeria March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw a boy of 10 being pulled from the rubble covered in dust but with no visible injuries. A crowd erupted into cheers as another child was pulled from the wreckage. The two were among eight children residents said had been rescued so far.

Workers on top of the rubble shoveled debris away as thousands of people swarmed around the rescue site — dozens watching from rooftops and hundreds more packed into the surrounding streets.

“It is believed that many people including children are currently trapped in the building,” said Ibrahmi Farinloye, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency’s southwest region, adding that casualty figures were not yet available.

Residents of the area said around 100 children attended the school, which was on the third floor of the building.

At the site, many people were shouting and screaming. A fight almost broke out as anger at the collapse boiled over.

In the crowd’s midst stood ambulances, fire trucks and a fork lift. Workers from the Red Cross and police were on hand.

The building was in the Ita-faji area of Lagos island, the original heart of the lagoon city before it expanded onto the mainland.

Nigeria is frequently hit by building collapses, with weak enforcement of regulations and poor construction materials often used. In 2016, more than 100 people were killed when a church came down in southeastern Nigeria.

In Lagos that same year, a five-story building still under construction collapsed, killing at least 30 people.

A floating school built to withstand storms and floods was also brought down in Lagos in 2016, though nobody was reported injured.

(Reporting by Nneka Chile, Temilade Adelaja and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Additional reporting by Paul Carsten and Camillus Eboh in Abuja and Ola Lanre in Maiduguri; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Graff)

Soldiers, rescue dogs seek trapped firefighters in Tehran building collapse

By Parisa Hafezi

ANKARA (Reuters) – Soldiers, sniffer dogs and rescue workers were searching for an estimated 25 trapped firefighters on Thursday in the ruins of a 17-storey commercial building that collapsed while they were trying to put out a blaze, the mayor of Tehran said.

Iranian state TV said at least 78 people, including 45 firefighters, had been hurt when the Plasco building in the south of the capital came crashing down in a giant cloud of dust. One witness described it as “like a horror movie”.

Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf denied speculation on social media that dozens of people had been killed. “The reports on 30, 50 fatalities are incorrect. Around 25 firefighters are trapped inside and rescue teams are trying to take them out,” he told state television.

The broadcaster reported: “Still some parts of the collapsed building are on fire. Firefighters are trying to control the fire.” Most of those hurt had been taken to hospital and many were quickly discharged, it said.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency said troops had been sent to help dig through the ruins. It said one of the first firefighters to be reached had demanded to be let back inside to save his colleagues.

The agency quoted an official in the Tehran governor’s office as saying an electrical short-circuit had caused the fire, but there was no immediate confirmation of this.

President Hassan Rouhani ordered an immediate investigation and compensation for those affected.


Tehran Fire Department spokesman Jalal Maleki said the building had collapsed vertically. “That is why adjacent buildings were not damaged,” he said.

Occupants of the building had been evacuated as the firefighters tackled the blaze. State TV said the tenants included garment manufacturers, and broadcast footage of business owners trying to re-enter the wreckage.

Sniffer dogs searched for signs of survivors buried under giant slabs of concrete and heaps of twisted metal. The rescue operation could last more than two days, state TV said.

The Plasco building, Iran’s first private high-rise, was built more than 50 years ago by a prominent Iranian-Jewish businessman who was arrested and sentenced to death for ties to Israel after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Tasnim said it “had caught fire in the past”. A fire department spokesman told state TV that tenants “had been warned repeatedly in the past months by the municipality to evacuate the building because of safety concerns.”

“We had repeatedly warned the building managers about the lack of safety,” Maleki told state TV. “The building lacked fire extinguishers… But the building managers ignored the warnings.”

The owner of a nearby grocery store, forced by police to leave the area, told Reuters by telephone: “It was like a horror movie. The building collapsed in front of me.”

The semi-official Fars news agency said police had cordoned off the nearby British, German and Turkish embassies. “The flames could be seen kilometers away from the old building,” it said.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)