George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Death toll in the building collapse along Yar’Adua Drive in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has risen to 15.
The latest casualty figure was given by the Head of the Imo/Abia State Operations Office of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Evans Ugoh. He spoke in an interview on Friday in Owerri as rescue efforts continued at the site of the building collapse.
On April 30, an eight-storey building under construction collapsed, killing two persons, while eight others were rescued and rushed to Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. Rescue operators searching for victims pulled out five dead bodies from the debris of the building on Friday, while the eight people taken to hospital were later confirmed dead, bringing the total casualty figure to 15.
“As you can see, we are still working, disaster managers are on ground conducting search and rescue. We have exhumed five dead bodies today. I believe that more people are still trapped but we will not give up,” Mr Ugoh said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Owerri Capital Development Authority, Innocent Ikpamezie, has blamed the collapse on poor engineering work.
Mr Ikpamezie made the disclosure in a radio programme on Friday, where he analysed the cause of the collapse. He said many contractors were in the habit of violating building guidelines, which according to him, often results in building collapses.
Meanwhile, Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma has vowed to bring the developer of the collapsed eight-storey hotel building to book in which some people died while others were injured, some seriously.
He promised that his government would do everything humanly possible to ensure that all those who are still trapped in the rubbles are brought out alive.