By Egufe Yafugborhi & Akpokona Omofuaire
WARRI—Rescuers, mainly neighbours and members of Mercy Land Church, yesterday, pulled out seven persons from the debris of collapsed wing of Makaval Hotel located off Refinery Road, Effurun, in Delta State.
Medical officials at nearby Divine Grace Hospital, where the wounded victims were admitted for medical attention, said it was too early to allow visits and talks with the patients as a result of injuries and shock suffered in the mishap.
Akpoguma Davis, a landlord in an adjacent building, who witnessed it all, said: “At about 3am, my dogs were barking seriously, so I came out not knowing they were reacting to the noisy cracks from the first vibration.
“I took torch and went round, wondering if there were robbers lurking. After three minutes, this whole wing of the building collapsed. About seven persons have been rescued alive. I heard one woman shouting ‘I am Mercy Land visitor, help me. We got her out after four hours.”
Benjamin Hosu, 51, from Lagos, said: “I and a colleague came to town to execute a project yesterday. We were lodged in the first floor. Around 3.10am, we heard noise and thought they were armed robbers.
“Suddenly, our room went down to the floor. Some rescuers came out with torch lights as we shouted for help. They started breaking in till they got us out. We have been to the hospital, checked and confirmed okay.”
When Vanguard reached the scene, rescue efforts were on to pull out a pregnant woman trapped in the building, after she had shouted for help.
The rescuers got to her by 10am, and pulled her out to the waiting arms of her father, a Bayelsan, simply identified as Gambia, who whisked her out immediately, while declining press comment.
Ayo Ameye, a neighbour who participated in the rescue operation, said: “More persons could still be in there. A man on the other side has been in contact on his phone. The phone probably ran out on battery because we have not been able to hear from him any more. The line went dead.”
When Vanguard was leaving the scene, two excavators provided by the Mercy Land, host to most of the guests lodged at the hotel, were seen still clearing debris, hoping to rescue more of the trapped victims.
None of the hotel staff present was ready to speak on the situation, but early callers at the scene said they had indicated that only seven persons were lodged in there, but it was gathered that the number could be more as some lodgers had companions with them.
Meanwhile, the state government yesterday shut the hotel to ensure protection of lives and properties.
The Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro,who gave the directive when he spoke to Vanguard shortly after visiting the collapsed building, said the hotel remained shut until an integrity test was conducted by certified engineers to ascertain the cause of the collapse of the twin storey building.
While noting that officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and the Red Cross were on ground to rescue trapped victims in the collapsed building, Otuaro promised that the state government would take responsibility for hospital bills of the injured victims.