By Sunny A. Ijomah
About 10 persons were trapped while two people were rescued as a three storey building under construction collapsed in Onitsha.
The building collapse took place at about 1.30 pm on Wednesday when workers were busy carrying out construction work at a building located at Ezenwa Street by Ogalanya Street Junction Onitsha.
Hundreds of people gathered around the scene of the incident as rescue workers and sympathizers scrambled to rescue the trapped people, one of whom was suspected to be the site engineer.
As at the time of filing this report rescue operation was still being done by manual labour as no government official that could provide an excavating machine had visited the scene of the collapsed building.
The non-arrival of an excavator, one hour after the incident for a rescue operation, triggered outrage by sympathizers against the government.
The visibly angry and frustrated chairman of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Prof. Peter Emeka Katchy, who supervised the rescue of the two victims, said he had been taken to the intensive care unit of the General Hospital Onitsha.
However, Prof. Katchy who was very angry and frustrated that up till 4.30 pm, following the collapse of the building, and after he arrived with his men, there was no rescue equipment for excavation to bring out the remaining people trapped in the unfortunate building.
He said he had made several calls to respective government agencies for excavators to be provided without any fruitful result.
The Anambra State Emergency Management Agency’s, SEMA’s, Executive, Director, Chief Cyprian Agupugo, and the Executive Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on SEMA, Chief Emeka Obinwa, were also at the scene of the incident making frantic efforts and calls to ensure the rescue of the victims.
They were however handicapped by lack of equipment for the rescue mission and had to resort to encouraging the youths around the site to help in the rescue efforts. They were later joined by the officials of Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra State, popularly known as OCHA Brigade.
Some of the youth carrying out the rescue operation said the handsets of the trapped workers were ringing but reaching them proved too difficult without an excavating machine.
The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Central Police Station, CPS Ifeanyi Iburu, said he had called the Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government Area, Mr. Patrick Aghamba, to arrange for an excavator, saying that the manual effort would not take them anywhere in the rescue operations.
However Aghamba who visited the scene of the incident at about 3pm immediately and left to mobilize excavating machines was yet to return with any as at the time of filing this report.
Hundreds of sympathizers were still gathered around the scene bemoaning the incident and accusing builders of wanting to build houses to heaven without proper and standard equipment.
The crowd of sympathizers at the scene of the incident kept increasing as the traders from the nearby markets, including Onitsha Main Market, Ose Okwodu Market, Marine Modern Market and Ochanja Central Market, closed for the day’s business and trooped to the scene of the incident.
Some of the residents of the area, especially women, who thronged the place, were seen wailing as rescue efforts were delayed.