The death toll has continued to rise after an under-construction high-rise in Lagos, Nigeria collapsed, trapping dozens of people in the rubble.
The collapse happened in the early afternoon local time on Nov. 1 on Gerrard Road in Ikoyi, an affluent neighborhood located on an island by Lagos Lagoon. The cause was not immediately known.
The collapsed 21-story building was part of the three-tower 360 Degrees Ikoyi project by developer Fourscore Homes. The project’s website describes it as an “exclusive, high-end residential development.”
Officials had shut down construction at the site for four months before the collapse because of "anomalies in the construction process," Lagos State Deputy Governor Kadi Obafemi Hamzat said during a news conference on Nov. 2. It wasn't immediately clear when work had resumed. The other buildings in the development will undergo structural integrity testing, Hamzat added.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu ordered the indefinite suspension of Gbolahan Oki, general manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, following the collapse. The Lagos state government is setting up an independent panel to investigate the collapse. The panel will include members from the Nigeria Institute of Architects, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners and Nigeria Society of Engineers, officials say. The government is also conducting its own probe into the collapse.
Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu, head of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement that search and rescue operations were underway. The Lagos state government says nine people have been rescued alive. Three of them have been discharged from an area hospital, while the others remained hospitalized in stable condition. Fourteen bodies have also been recovered.
Hamzat said during a news conference on Nov. 2 that the building being under construction at the time of the collapse was complicating rescue efforts, and officials still weren't sure exactly how many people remained inside the rubble.
Gbenga Omotoso, a Lagos state government spokesperson, said in a statement that developers and property owners who ignore building codes and planning regulations "will surely be prosecuted."
The Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority sealed 67 buildings on Nov. 2, after officials say the owners failed to respond to notices issued in September. Most of the properties were residential buildings converted for commercial use without permits.