Over 100 workers are still trapped in the high rise building that collapsed in a part of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, Friday evening.
The eight storey five star hotel with an underground layer and seven storey on the surface collapsed on the over 200 workers and contractors on site about 5:15 pm, leaving those inside trapped in the wreckage.
About 30 of the victims have been rescued alive since the incident, with two other dead bodies recovered.
Some of the lucky workers that escaped the falling structure, who narrated their ordeal at the site of the building yesterday said; “We had already finished work for the day at around 5pm, I was standing at the front of the building outside, trying to clean up so I could change to a better clothe before I could go for my daily pay.
“By this time all the workers, numbering over 200, mainly youths, were inside trying to get their money as well. While I was wearing my clothe. I heard the sound as if something was breaking down; when I looked, it was the building. I quickly ran across the road to escape to the opposite side of the building. In the process, I was injured by nail, but I have gone to the hospital to treat it.”
Also another person, who said he was the operator of one of the machines used in mixing materials for the work, narrowly escaped death.
According to him, he was already inside the building hall, waiting for the time to collect his wage, when all of a sudden, he heard the sound and saw the front view of the building falling inside; then I jumped and continued to run, got to a small gate by the entrance, dust had covered everywhere. I merely opened the gate on getting outside the building. I could not see anything, the dust had taken over the entire environment that one could not even figure out where the main road was.
“At this time I gave up and stopped running any further so I would not collide with on-coming vehicle while trying to cross the road, but somehow, the building fell inside and not outside, otherwise it would have still picked me. I was already tired of running.”
Asked who, apart from the workers were within the building when the incident happened, he said, some contractors that also came for their money, including the woman that was supplying the sand and food vendors that came around to recover the debt owed them by the workers.
Although the cause of the collapse is yet to be ascertained, sympathisers who are knowledgeable about building quality ruled out substandard materials as possible cause, as each analyser confirmed that the rods and cement mixtures are accurate, adding that the rods are of the highest quality ranging between 20 and 25 mm size, just as instead of blocks, the structure were being scared.
They were however not sure of the soil quality as they said the environment is swampy in nature, adding that the weight of the structures may have put unbearable stress on the soil ground causing the collapse.
However the state House of Assembly said it will commence investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the collapse of the 7-storey building along Woji Road in GRA, Port Harcourt.
Majority Leader of the House, Martin Amaewhule, stated this when Rivers lawmakers visited the site of the incident on Saturday morning.
He said: “The Rivers State House of Assembly will reconvene to carry out proper investigation into what happened and you can be assured that in the coming days, we will sit and we will review the situation. Collapse of the building happened around 4 p.m. on Friday. So, we need to properly investigate before we run into conclusions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the two main political parties in the state are competing on show of concern on the site.
Governor Nyesom Wike has already travelled before the incident, Friday, but the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, has visited the scene.
Also all the State Executive Council members have been keeping vigil at the site to ensure that every single victim was rescued alive.
In the same vein, the APC gubernatorial candidate, Arch. Tonye Cole, also visited the scene to also show his sympathy.
Meanwhile the State Government says it has invited all those who can assist in the rescue of those trapped in the collapsed building.
According to a statement from the Deputy Governor yesterday, Governor Wike had mandated her to assure family members and friends of those caught up in the disaster that the Rivers State Government would ensure that they are rescued alive.
Reliable sources said the collapsed structure is owned by a Bayelsan, and that he was trying to replicate what he has in Abuja in the state.
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