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Death toll in Rivers building collapse rises to 13

By Davies Iheamnachor

PORT HARCOURT—Four more dead bodies were recovered, yesterday, from the collapsed seven-storey building in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, bringing the death toll to 13.

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As at yesterday, 44 people have been brought out from the rubble, with 31 people rescued alive while 13 were brought out dead.

During yesterday’s operation, four dead bodies were brought out of the collapsed building, while nine were brought out last week bringing the total number of deaths in the incident to 13.

The South-South Zonal Coordinator of National Emergency Management Agency, Martins Ejike, who disclosed this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, described the incident as peculiar.

Ejike said the peculiarity of the collapsed building has made it difficult for the disaster management team to conclude the rescue operations despite the level of equipment deployed at the site.

He, however, dismissed claims that NEMA has not done well in the operation, stressing that NEMA was only a coordinating agency and not a main rescue agency in an incident of such.

“The kind of experience we have in Port Harcourt as it concerns the collapsed building we have not had it anywhere else. The way the building collapsed makes it very difficult for us to rescue victims.

“You have to clear everything before you can bring out anyone inside either alive or dead. The building just fell down flat; something must be wrong somewhere.

“I hear people say NEMA is not doing enough in the rescue operations, which is not true. We are not a rescue agency but rather coordinating agency.

“As soon as we heard the case of the collapsed building, we had to call on our sister agencies whose major work is to rescue. We sent in our equipment, mobilised our men to site, that is why you see operation still going on and we will remain there till everything is done at the site.”

Ejike, expressed sadness over lack of manpower in carrying out their operations, adding that such makes them depend mainly on collaborations.

It is worthy to note that the rescue operations at the site of the collapsed building in Port Harcourt has, at yesterday, lasted for 10 days and is still ongoing.

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