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Tragedy Strikes in Cameroon as Building Collapse Claims 33 Lives in Douala

July 25, 2023

 

 

 

 

 

 

A devastating incident unfolded in Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, where a four-storey building collapsed, crashing down onto another residential block, resulting in the loss of 33 lives, according to firefighters at the scene. The catastrophe occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning in the Ange Raphaël neighbourhood, leaving a trail of devastation and grief in its wake. The exact cause of the collapse remains unclear, leaving the community in shock and distress.

As the rescue efforts swung into action, at least 21 people were found injured, with many of them rushed to the nearby Laquintinie Hospital for medical treatment. Among the injured was a three-year-old girl who, despite medical care, tragically succumbed to her injuries.

Distraught neighbors, alongside emergency services, bravely searched through the rubble in hopes of finding survivors amidst the chaos and destruction. Regional governor, Samuel Dieudonné Ivaha Diboua, offered reassurance to the public, affirming that the situation was under control and that the rescue teams would exhaust all efforts to ensure no one was trapped beneath the wreckage.

Despite strides made in recent years to improve safety standards, a senior official expressed deep disappointment over the loss of lives in this tragedy. Kizito Ngoa, the head of Cameroon’s Order of Civil Engineers, responsible for regulating housing in the country, lamented the recurrence of such disasters despite efforts to bring order to the city, especially in Douala.

Douala had experienced a major building collapse back in 2016, leading the city council to demolish homes deemed vulnerable to flooding or landslides. However, the four-storey building that collapsed on Sunday was not among those marked for demolition. Residents attested to its dilapidated appearance, but the local officials have not yet confirmed the exact cause of the tragic accident.

In response to the incident, authorities issued a statement reminding all prospective builders in Douala about the necessity of obtaining official permits before initiating construction. The adherence to approved design plans was also stressed upon as a critical factor in ensuring structural safety.

Mr. Ngoa highlighted the violation of planning rules as a significant contributor to building collapses across the country, emphasizing the need for greater public awareness of the true costs and importance of proper construction practices. He raised concerns about a pervasive sentiment that allows people to disregard regulations and cut corners to save costs during projects. In some instances, council workers themselves may be complicit in such practices, and the lack of sufficient publicity around sanctions and inquiries adds to the problem.

As the nation mourns the lives lost in this tragic event, there is a call for collective efforts to prioritize safety and adherence to building codes to prevent such disasters from occurring in the future.

Source: BBC

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