3 missing after Westlands building collapse

May 7, 2012 2:03 pm
The collapsed building was close to an occupied block of apartments

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – Three people were feared trapped or missing after a six-storey building that was under construction in Nairobi’s Westlands neighbourhood collapsed on Monday.

Witnesses and construction workers at the site told Capital FM News that one person was rescued and rushed to hospital but majority of the workers on duty at the time were able to escape before the building came down.

“One person has been taken to hospital with injuries on the head and hands,” Musa Amasa who escaped unhurt in the tragedy said.

Another worker said: “There are three people who cannot be accounted for, we don’t know where they are after this tragedy.”

It is believed the three may have escaped and fled to safety and did not immediately return to the site or were trapped under the rubble.

The residential building that was under construction is located just behind Westlands Primary School and is adjacent to another six storey building that is also under construction.

It ripped off part of a house that is already occupied but no one was hurt, exposing the dangers people living next to houses under construction face.

“It is just by luck that no one was injured because the house is fully occupied yet it has been destroyed on the corner side,” one witness who only identified himself as Jack said.

Construction workers interviewed at the site said the tragedy occurred at lunch hour when most of them were either relaxing on lower floors or eating outside.

“I was inside then I heard people shouting that they had heard a loud crack. Before I could figure out if what I heard was a crack, the building started swaying and I ran out very fast, that is why I am alive,” another worker said.

Those on the first and second floors were also able to escape the tragedy.

Most of the workers said a guard on duty had blocked them from getting out of the compound because he locked the gate and declined to give them the key as they ran to safety.

“He could not open for us despite the screams and shouts, so we had to jump over the fence, I don’t know what was going in his mind,” another worker said.

The building was nearing completion and workers present had been putting up final touches which include a plaster and electricity conduits.

When Capital FM News crew arrived at the scene, Kenya Red Cross personnel and the construction workers were standing in groups with no efforts to try and dig under the rubble to confirm if there was anyone trapped.

Police officers from Gigiri police station could be seen walking in and out of the compound before they finally drove away.

Journalists had a hard time accessing the building as the guard on duty and other people who appeared to have influence over him kept locking up the gate, and restricting movement into the building.

Cases of houses collapsing while under construction are common in Nairobi and other parts of the country where deaths and serious injuries are often reported.

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