Hopes Dim for Finding Survivors in Collapsed Nigerian High-Rise as Desperate Families Wait

Hope has begun to dwindle that more survivors will be found in the rubble of a high-rise apartment in Nigeria that collapsed Monday while under construction, the Associated Press reported.

The death toll has risen to 36, according to an emergency official, but no one has been found alive since Tuesday. Families and residents were lined up outside the building's premises Thursday as the search continued. Some begged officials to allow them to aid the effort despite warnings from gun-bearing soldiers who told them to stay clear of the site, the AP said.

While it is unclear how many people may be trapped inside the collapsed building, one construction worker at the scene of the collapse estimated that about 100 people were working there when it fell. Given the number of people rescued and found dead, that would mean about 55 people could still be unaccounted for, according to the AP.

Segun Akande of the Nigerian Red Cross said that "the chances are very slim, very, very slim" that more survivors are in the rubble.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Collapsed Apartment in Nigeria
Hope has begun to dwindle that more survivors will be found in the rubble of a high-rise apartment building in Nigeria that collapsed Monday. Above, rescue workers search for survivors on Wednesday. Sunday Alamba/AP Photo

"They couldn't allow me to check whether my son is alive or dead," said Abel Godwin, who traveled 448 miles from the nation's capital, Abuja, to check the hospital where victims are being treated in search of his 18-year-old son, who had been employed at the site.

The 21-story luxury apartment building that was being built toppled Monday while construction workers were on the site, some of whom were artisans who started work that day.

When the building collapsed, it took about three hours for officials to launch the rescue effort. That angered families and residents, who complained that the search for survivors is not fast enough, despite the use of four excavators, life-detecting tools, water and oxygen. Rescue workers are fatigued.

The governor of Lagos has given an independent panel 30 days to unravel the cause of the accident and whether the project developers had fully complied with building laws. The six-member panel is also to examine whether there were any lapses by state regulators in overseeing the project.

"We feel a lot of concerns of family members. People are indeed upset," Governor Sanwo-Olu told those present at the site on Wednesday. "I can assure you we are doing everything," he said, promising that criminal charges will be filed against those indicted in the disaster.

Building collapses in Nigeria are frequent, including in Lagos, which recorded four such accidents last year, resulting in five casualties including three children. Authorities continued to face immense pressure over the latest incident amid accusations that they failed to heed previous warnings and adopt past recommendations.

"I think there is only one material testing laboratory in Lagos today. Recommendations were made over 10 years ago. Let's have other certified laboratory testing places," said David Majekodunmi, chairman of the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Architects.

Nigerian Building Collapse
Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visits the site of the collapsed 21-story apartment building that was under construction in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday. Sunday Alamba/AP Photo