A six-storey building collapsed while under construction in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan on Friday, killing at least seven of the builders on site, firefighters at the scene said.
The building was an illegal construction coming up in Cocody, home to several embassies and the presidential palace, the construction ministry said.
Around midday local time, the workers heard cracking sounds and the building started to crumble around them, said caretaker and builder Jourdin Yoro.
“In a rush, we started to run,” Yoro said. “Within about 45 seconds, the building collapsed.”
Rescue efforts were ongoing at the site in Abidjan’s upscale Riviera Palmeraie district over the weekend, with emergency workers searching through a vast pile of shattered concrete and debris.
A further nine people were wounded in the collapse, said Charles Paolo, the head of the firefighting unit at the scene.
Abidjan is undergoing a demographic and economic boom and several illegal buildings are mushrooming in the Atlantic Ocean port city, a major gateway to West Africa.
Such accidents are relatively frequent in Ivory Coast and elsewhere in West Africa, particularly in the rainy season, due to poor enforcement of building regulations and the use of often substandard construction materials.
In 2022, the Ivorian government said it would step up efforts to boost compliance with safe construction practices after thirteen people were killed in two building collapses in Abidjan within a two week period in February and March.