Hope turns to anger after Nigeria building collapsed

Anger and frustration is replacing the hope of finding survivors at the site of a collapsed residential building in the wealthy neighbourhood of Ikoyi in Nigeria’s biggest city of Lagos, where at least 36 people died.

The febrile intensity of the rescue operation after the building came down on Monday afternoon has been replaced with the crunching rumble of an excavator digging and lifting concrete slaps without too much care.

Voices of frustrated families and friends, who have gathered here occasionally, filled the air as they shouted at officials who visited the site and disapproved of the rescue crew’s methods.

“I have no faith in them,” BakareFarati said.

He hasn’t left the site since Monday – his uncle has still not been accounted for.

The anguish has taken a visible toll on him; he looks tired, dejected and defeated.

“It’s a retrieval operation. Not a rescue operation. They’re not taking care to search for bodies. One of the bodies they pulled out this morning was dismembered by the excavator,” Mr Farati added.

His uncle, Wale Bob Oseni, in his late 40s, was at the site visiting a friend when the building came down. He was due to fly back to the US where he lives part-time that evening, he said.

“The authorities stopped working for seven hours on the first day. They didn’t have the urgency you’d have thought they’d have in this type of situation,” Mr Farati added.

Other relatives of the missing shared his frustration. A man in his 30s, who did not want to be named said his friend was also visiting the site.

“The pace of the search is too slow. They’re over it. They just want to get out of here,” he said angrily. “It’s disheartening and shows how little human lives are valued in Nigeria.”

“We’re just keeping hope against all hope,” he added.

The Wednesday crowd was smaller compared to the hundreds who gathered here minutes after the building collapsed. They used their bare hands to lift the rubble to try and rescue those trapped.

Meanwhile, the security cordon has grown bigger, along with the number of soldiers and police officers.

A man is overheard telling the workers to wait for a hearse to drive closer to the site instead of carrying the bodies to where the vehicle was parked. -BBC

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