Nigerian officials called off a rescue mission inside a collapsed building in Lagos on Thursday, a day after the multilevel building — which housed a school — caved in.
At least eight people have been declared dead since the building collapsed Wednesday morning, drawing crowds of thousands to an already busy neighborhood on Lagos Island in Nigeria’s commercial capital, a megacity that is home to more than 22 million people.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone remained missing Thursday or how many children were among the dead. National Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye said workers didn’t expect to find anyone else after having reached the building’s foundation, the Associated Press reported.
Lagos’s state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the building had been scheduled to be demolished before its collapse and should have been used only for residential purposes. Those familiar with the school told news outlets that as many as 100 students may have been inside the building at the time of its collapse, but officials did not give any updated death toll on Thursday.
Footage from the scene showed a young boy, his face, arms and legs covered in dust, being lifted above the crowd and passed between adults to safety as people cheered around him. Members of the crowd held up an oxygen mask to the face of another young child pulled from the rubble. Photos published by the state government on Twitter showed throngs gathered around what remains of the building.
Poor infrastructure has led to mass-casualty events in Nigeria before. In 2016, a church roof caved in on a crowded congregation in the southern city of Uyo, killing at least 160 people. At the time, members of the Reigners Bible Church International said construction on the church was rushed so that the building could be ready in time for a bishop to be ordained the day it collapsed.
In 2014, part of a church complex in Lagos collapsed, killing more than 100 people. The Synagogue Church of All Nations was founded by TB Joshua, an influential but controversial figure in Nigeria whose followers believe he is a prophet. Many of those inside the church were visiting from South Africa.