LAGOS, Nigeria — Frantic rescue efforts were underway in Nigeria on Wednesday after a three-story school building collapsed while classes were in session and scores of children thought to be inside.
Associated Press video from the scene showed a child covered in dust being carried out of the rubble, to cheers. But another child was pulled out and slung over a rescuer’s shoulder, limp and dangling.
Onlookers crowded around in the densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and a city of some 20 million people.
Hundreds stood in narrow streets and on rooftops of rusted, corrugated metal and a single yellow excavator scooped at the ruins, a nest of rebar and dust.
Emotional, a number of shirtless, barefooted men jumped in to offer assistance with hacksaws and hammers in hand. One held a water bottle in his teeth.
Sani Datti, a spokesman with Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press that officials from the agency and other emergency services were at the site.
“For now, we don’t have any word on casualties as we are still busy with rescue work,” he said.
Building collapses are common in Nigeria, where new structures often go up without regulatory oversight.
The collapse comes as President Muhammadu Buhari, recently elected to a second term, tries to improve groaning, inefficient infrastructure in Africa’s most populous nation.
“Nigeria’s infrastructure is generally less than half the size than in the average sub-Saharan Africa country and only a fraction of that in emerging market economies,” the International Monetary Fund has noted.
“The perceived quality of the infrastructure is low.”