Frantic rescue efforts were underway in Nigeria on Wednesday after a three-story building collapsed while classes were in session on the top floor, with scores of children thought to be inside.
The Nigerian news station Channels TV reported that a primary school was located on the top floor of the building, “with pupils feared killed and others trapped.”
A spokesman for the Nigerian emergency services, Ibrahim Farinloye, confirmed the incident.
Associated Press video from the scene showed a dust-covered child being carried out of the rubble, to cheers. But another child was pulled out and slung over a rescuer's shoulder, limp and dangling.
The collapse occurred in the Itafaji area of Lagos Island.
Onlookers crowded around in the densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital and a city of some 20 million people.
Hundreds of people stood in narrow streets and on rooftops of rusted, corrugated metal. A single yellow excavator scooped at the ruins, a nest of rebar and dust.
Emotional, a number of shirtless men jumped in to offer assistance, hacksaws, and mallets in hand. Some were barefoot. 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 all too common in Nigeria, where new construction often goes up without regulatory oversight.
The collapse comes as President Muhammadu Buhari, newly 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."