By Oginyi Ruth
No fewer than twenty six staff of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other guests on Wednesday evening escaped death at Metro View Hotel along Ezza road in Ebonyi State when the hotel building suddenly collapsed.
It was gathered that 26 out of the WHO officials who were in the state for a programme had reportedly lodged in the hotel when the unfortunate incident occurred on Wednesday.
No casualty was recorded during the incident.
However, guests at the hotel including WHO officials lost their personal properties to the collapsed.
It was gathered that the security guard had observed when the walls of the building started shaking and raised alarm which made guests to scamper for safety without anyone being trapped in the process.
Consequently, the state government has sealed the hotel while investigation has been launched into the incident.
It was further learnt that members of the Prevention, Investigation, Failure and Analysis Committee of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) visited the site of the collapsed building for investigation on Thursday.
The newly appointed Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi on Capital Territory Development, Chief Ejem Okoro announced the government action and said 60 persons escaped death following the sudden collapse of the popular hotel.
Okoro said, “We got a shocking news in the night that a wing of Metro View Hotel has collapsed and we immediately dispatched our men to go and get underground view of the news.
“They saw that the building has collapsed and took photographs of it.We discovered that a wing of the hotel which looks like an attachment to the main building has pulled from the main building and the entire place collapsed.
“The fortunate thing that happened is that so many people lodged here, nobody was injured and they came out successfully and have been re-located to another hotel.
“Up to 60 people lodged here and they are safely out from this place – glory be to God. We are advising people to get approval from the government when they want to build and as you are building, you take order.
“We have step by step on how to build and supervise building. So, if we don’t supervise your building, you are building on your own and if anything happens to the building, we will hold you responsible. We have to seal the entire building till further notice because we don’t want to lose any life”, he said.
Meanwhile, the hotel director, Chief Austine Orji, revealed that they had noticed a crack on some of the pillars holding the building and they immediately cordoned off the side of building and started renovations, adding that it was on the process of the renovation that the building collapsed.
Orji said those who lodged in the hotel were outside the building for a seminar when the incident happened, stressing that no life was lost.
“The manager of this hotel showed me the pillar that was cracking and we immediately cordoned-off the place, this was on Tuesday this week. We immediately evacuated all our guests in the hotel on that Tuesday to see if we can salvage the building and started work on the building on Wednesday.
“During the work, we discovered that it was coming down the more. We then left the job. Then at about 7:pm of that Wednesday, the building collapsed.
“There is no truth in the insinuation that about 60 people were inside the hotel and they escaped death when it collapsed. No guest was in this hotel, the people the government saw were people who came when the incident happened. So, nobody was in the hotel as a guest when the building collapsed”, he said.
Also speaking, Chairman of Prevention, Investigation, Failure and Analysis committee of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Engr. Raphael Oko said from a cursory engineering look of the building, there was a shell failure but that the committee needed to study different aspect of the design and construction of the building to come up with standpoint of the remote and immediate cause of the collapse.
“We have procedures in Engineering, we subject materials to laboratory test and the outcome of that laboratory test will guide us. we don’t just speak in isolation. We must identify whether the materials fall short of the standard, we will also get to the manpower use”, he said.
An eyewitness account said the building possibly collapsed owing to the overhead tanks mounted on it, the pressure which created cracks on the building walls.
Chinyere who is a student of Physical Sciences in Ebonyi State University told this newspaper that the incident which occurred at evening hours of yesterday (Wednesday) drew the attention of residents, especially students living within the vincity of the collapsed building.
According to her, there was panic among the residents, as even people staying in a nearby one storey building and those doing businesses abandoned their business to see for themselves.
She recalled that there was a church housed by the hotel in the past, adding that she was not sure if the church was in session when the building collapsed, even as commended the state government for acting promptly.