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City school building crushes 11 workers

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th January 2008 03:00 AM

ELEVEN workers were crushed to death and several others injured when a three-storied building being constructed at a city secondary school collapsed yesterday.

ELEVEN workers were crushed to death and several others injured when a three-storied building being constructed at a city secondary school collapsed yesterday.

By Steven Candia
and Conan Businge


ELEVEN workers were crushed to death and several others injured when a three-storied building being constructed at a city secondary school collapsed yesterday.

The death toll remained the same by press time though the Police feared the number could rise since about 30 victims were feared to have been trapped under the concrete. Ten workers were rescued.

The building at St. Peter’s Naalya in Kiira Town Council caved in at about 9:30am.
The number of people buried under the rubble was much less, said the head of the school, Martin Sanyu. “There may be another four or five (people trapped).”
The site manager, Sam Kafere, could have been crushed by the concrete, he added.

The construction started last February, according to Sanyu. He said poor workmanship could have caused the tragedy but insisted the school was not to blame.

“These days, you can buy fake cement. But we gave them enough cement. We should not be held responsible.”

The workers turned up for duty at 8:00am. Some had been perched on top, roofing the structure while others were working inside.

Survivor Alexander Make, 18, said he stayed outside the building where he watched in horror as his colleagues were buried alive by the huge structure.
“I heard a huge noise as the building collapsed. Some of them were inside while many carpenters were roofing the building. Terrible. I can’t believe what happened.”

Another survivor said: “We knew this building was a great risk because we were under instruction to add seven wheelbarrows to every bag of cement. This was unrealistic.”

After the collapse, the residents mounted a massive rescue operation using primitive tools and were joined 30 minutes later by the Police fire brigade.

Five excavators––three from Salini, a construction firm, one from the Police and the other from BMK—took part in the day-long operation. They cut through the concrete slabs as the fire brigade dismantled the steel rods to free the survivors.

The Police also provided patrol trucks, the Uganda Red Cross, St. John Ambulance and the UPDF provided medical workers. Ambulances, sirens blaring, sped off to Mulago Hospital with the victims.

Police spokesman Gabriel Tibayungwa said the mishap could have been a result of shoddy work. “The building materials could have been mixed poorly.”
He added: “One would expect that a project of this magnitude would have been given to a reputable firm but that was not the case.

Detectives yesterday visited the scene and took samples of the rubble for testing.

But residents blamed the tragedy on the spirits of the dead since the building had been erected over a grave yard. They said the remains had been exhumed and reburied amid controversy.

The Police director of operations, Francis Rwego, the Kampala Extra Police chief, Edward Ochom, CID chief Geoffrey Musana and Police fire chief Joseph Mugisa took charge of the operations.
Works minister John Nasasira visited the scene and promised an investigation.

“The constructor will have to make a statement on what happened; we will want to know whether the local authorities approved the design, whether the construction material was standard,” he said.

The Government, he said, would “get to the bottom of the matter” and whoever breached the law would be dealt with severely. He sent condolences to the bereaved families and thanked the rescue team.

The Police identified the dead as Isaac Assimwe, Andrew Waako, Ismail Mulindwa and the other two only as Kirinya and Wambi. The rest could not be identified though the bodies were taken to the city mortuary.

The plaintive cries of the victims under the rubble cut through the air.
Some victims were still communicating on their mobile phones. The retrieved bodies were mangled while the survivors suffered crushed limbs.

The building collapsed just days to the beginning of the new academic term and weeks after five people perished in a similar incident on Ben Kiwanuka Street.
Last year, 29 people died when a church in Kalerwe collapsed during a down-pour.

Six people were also killed in 2004 when a hotel under construction collapsed at Bwebajja on Entebbe Road.

City school building crushes 11 workers

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