Tuesday, November 27, 2018

7-Storey Building Collapse: Woman Accuses Government Officials Of Negligence As Rescue Operators Refuse To Work Due To Non-Payment Of Allowances

A Facebook user, Chinyere Offobuzo, whose cousin, Ihionu Morgan (pictured above), is still trapped in the rubble of the 7-storey building that collapsed in Rivers state last Friday, has accused government officials of having a nonchalant attitude towards the rescue operation at the site.

Chinyere and other family members of those trapped in the rubble, say some of the rescue operation workers have refused to work for some days now because  they have not been paid. 

She added that the rescue operators also do not have the appropriate tools to carry out the rescue operation.

She shared post below on her Facebook page,

Please know that government officials "on ground" at the above mentioned site are intentionally feeding the public wrong information to mask their incompetence.

My cousin IHIONU EKENE MORGAN is still trapped in this building. My family (as most families of the victims) has been at the site since Friday evening. No serious effort has been made to rescue the victims. The first four victims were evacuated via mob actions, manually using sledge hammers on Saturday. Out of these four victims, one person came out unscathed, one dead, two unconscious (one eventually died en route the hospital) and by Saturday evening, two more were retrieved dead.

The figures being claimed by the officials as rescued, though highly exaggerated, were passersby injured by shrapnel when the building collapsed at about 4.35pm on Friday 23rd Nov. 2018. Other than these six victims, no other person has been retrieved dead or alive.

From the account of the uninjured man rescued on Saturday, there are over 200 people trapped in this site. It is understood that the contractor slated Fridays only, as the payment day to workers, engineers and suppliers, hence the crowd on this faithful day.

The only equipment on ground are five Excavators and one 60 tonne Crane. The crane is too small to lift these boulders while the excavators are the wrong equipment for cutting them to smaller sizes. Please see attached pictures for the size of the boulders and equipment on ground.

No jack hammers or any earth moving equipment which is what is required to cut and lift the boulders and rescue the victims, rather the excavator buckets are being used to break the decks.

There has been no sense of urgency or coordination in the rescue operations. The body language of the rescue team seem to be of hope lost. We have overheard them say that there could be no more survivors, but we believe this is hasty as it is too early to draw such a conclusion.

They have informed us that Julius Berger is incharge of the rescue operations yet the only Julius Berger branded equipment on site are ambulances and Hilux vans. No Diggers, Cutters, Cranes or any requisite equipment/motors belonging to them is here. The Excavators seem to belong to MCC.

To make matters worse, the excavators downed tools on sunday morning claiming non payment by god knows who, only to start operations the moment Governor Wike's convoy was heard approaching and of course stopped immediately the governor left. Unfortunately, the police created a barricade, thus preventing us from accessing the governor to inform him of the hypocrisy of the entire rescue operations.

We had hoped the government would engage TREVI as they are renowned experts in operations of this nature and own equipment that can lift out these heavy boulders within 6 hours. More so as they have an operations base in Port Harcourt ! There are also several companies in Port Harcourt that are well equipped to easily handle this operation. If help is not found at a time like this in Port Harcourt, where then ?

The basement has two floors and the collapsed building is suspended over the basement. As at 3am yesterday (Sunday 25th Nov.), cries were still being heard from the basement of the building. A trapped victim, a pregnant woman (the food seller at the site) contacted her husband from her phone, stating that she and some others were trapped by the swimming pool located at the basement and that water was coming out from the ground and had reached their chest level (GRA phase 1 Port Harcourt is reclaimed/sandfilled land). Pumping machines didn't arrive the site until Rotary club brought one at about 1.40pm. Even at that, there was no visible effort to begin draining the basement floors. One can only imagine what could have happened to the victims trapped there!

As at 9.35am today, rescue operations were yet to commence. By this evening, one Jack Hammer has been deployed to the site but this is grossly inadequate to tackle the situation on ground.

Time is of the essence now. We are heartbroken and helpless, unable to do anything as our loved ones wither within the rubble of this site.

Please friends, kindly tag anyone who can help and re-post till the true picture gets to the necessary authorities.

You can quote me on the post

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