Collapsed Building In Nigeria Had Permit For 15 Floors, Not 21

Crews were moving through a mountain of broken concrete and steel looking for dozens still missing after the collapse killed at least 14 people.

Rescue workers at the site of a collapsed building.
Sunday Alamba / AP

Authorities in Nigeria have arrested the owner of a high-rise apartment building in the country's largest city that suddenly collapsed, killing at least 14 people and leaving dozens still missing Tuesday beneath the rubble.

Nine people have been pulled out alive, an official said, but relatives were angry at what they called the slow pace of the rescue effort that began hours after the collapse on Monday.

Meanwhile, officials said the property's developers had added six more floors than what was originally approved under their building permit in the city of Lagos, fueling speculation that the additional weight could have contributed to the collapse. The government-run News Agency of Nigeria reported that the building's owner had been arrested on undisclosed charges.

"I am on the ground here and the materials he used are so inferior and terrible," Gbolahan Oki, general manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, told the News Agency of Nigeria. "He got approval for 15 floors but built 21."

Hours later, the Lagos state governor announced Tuesday that Oki had been suspended from his position indefinitely.

Co-workers say they believe dozens of people remain trapped in the debris, and only nine people have been pulled out alive over the last 24 hours, Lagos commissioner for information Gbenga Omotoso said.

Others at the scene shouted in anger, saying the rescue operation was too slow and that they should be allowed to join the effort. It took about three hours before the first excavator arrived at the scene Monday afternoon.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.