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3-Story Building Collapses in Nigeria

November 28, 2006

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ A three-story bank under construction collapsed in the main Nigerian city of Lagos, and two people were unaccounted for and believed trapped inside the rubble, rescue workers said Tuesday.

Twelve people had been rescued by late morning, many of them construction workers, said Attah Benson, a Red Cross official who helped with the rescue effort after the building collapsed Monday evening.

``There was no light, so we couldn’t do much. We worked with our hands till 2:30 a.m.,″ Benson said. Excavating equipment arrived near midday Tuesday.

The building’s floors were compressed on top of each other, surrounded by bamboo scaffolding and cement blocks.

Dr. Sikuade Jagun, director of the Lagos ambulance service, said it was unclear exactly how many people were inside when the structure collapsed, but that two people appeared to be unaccounted for. He said those rescued had no serious injuries.

A state planning official said inspectors had ordered the building demolished because it was being built with poor materials and had structural defects.

It’s common in Nigeria for contractors to build at night without permits, then bribe authorities for approval once the structures are finished.

``We knew they were unsafe and we had already given them a demolition order. That’s why they were building at night,″ Francisco Abosede said.

Dozens of Nigerians have died this year in the collapse of poorly constructed or badly maintained buildings. In July, 25 people died when a Lagos apartment building caved in.

Many blamed poor crowd control for exacerbating the July disaster as family members and onlookers were allowed to walk on the rubble during the rescue effort.

On Tuesday, soldiers and rescue workers held onlookers back and the operation appeared orderly and controlled.

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