By Great Maduawulechukwu
Three persons, two female children and a woman, have been confirmed dead following a building collapse in Okpanam, near the capital city of Asaba, Delta State.
Okpanam Community, a suburb of the capital city of Asaba, was yesterday thrown into confusion as a building housing Salvation Ministry and other offices caved-in while service was going on.
Official statement from the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Delta State Command, DSP Bright Edafe, has put speculation about casualty figures to rest.
The statement further hinted that recue operation has been concluded as those who sustain injuries are receiving treatment in undisclosed hospitals.
According DSP Edafe, 11 persons out of the 18 persons rescued from the building collapse were still undergoing treatment while four have been discharged.
“Rescue operation is over, 18 persons rescued initially, four persons discharged, 11 persons still receiving treatment, three deaths recorded which includes two female children and one woman, their names unknown for now, kindly debunk the rumours making rounds that ten people died, that’s not correct,” Edafe stated.
Our investigation revealed that the building was owned by a businessman who later sold it to another businessman when the economy started shaking..
A source close to the area, stated that as a result of the transfer of ownership, other occupants had to Vacate when the new owner started mounting pressure on them over a planned renovation.
But Salvation Ministry could not move as it has over two years subsisting rent paid to the former owner.
The new owner in desperate bid to convert the building for maximum economic gain, started reconstruction work without due consideration of the strength of the structure and danger it poses to occupants.
It was alleged that the contractor engaged to reconstruct the building was on site working while over 150 worshippers of Salvation Ministry who were waiting to take holy communion were inside the building before the unfortunate incident occurred.
It was also reported that the site engineer took to his heel leaving his car behind when the incident happened.
Meanwhile, residents of the area are still in shock as they sympathised with families of the dead.
Some residents had alleged that the collapsed building was marked for demolition in 2016, as they questioned the rational behind why the demolition order was not effected.
They however, called on the Delta State to take proactive measures to avoid future occurrence and save innocent citizens from needless death.