At least 12 people have been killed and more than a dozen others injured in a building collapse in Cameroon, officials said.
A four-storey building collapsed in Cameroon’s commercial hub and largest city Douala, 210km (130 miles) west of the capital, Yaounde, the regional governor said on Sunday.
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The block caved in and fell onto another, smaller residential building at around 1am local time (00:00 GMT).
“Twelve died and the others are in hospital for medical attention,” Samuel Dieudonne Ivaha Diboua, the governor of the surrounding Littoral region, told journalists at the site, saying 31 people in total were affected.
“The casualty figures may be higher. Rescue workers, assisted by Cameroon government troops, are still digging the wreckage to see if more bodies can be recovered,” he added.
Douala’s Laquintinie hospital stated it had taken in 13 patients and said two – a girl of three and a 19-year-old woman – had died.
It added three other children among those injured were receiving emergency paediatric treatment.
Charles Elie Zang Zang, a Douala municipal councillor, said rescue services were searching through the rubble for survivors.
The military’s fire brigade has been ordered to join the country’s Red Cross and other rescue services in the search.
Residents living in the Ndogbong neighbourhood where the incident took place said they were in shock.
“We heard people screaming … and struggled to help some out of the wreckage, but could not do it with our spades and [garden] hoes,” said Gaspard Ndoppo, who lives near the collapsed buildings.
Five people died in similar circumstances in Douala in 2016 when authorities blamed the poor state of repairs and apparent violations of building regulations.
In June of that year, local authorities identified 500 buildings in danger of collapse.
Though the cause of the collapse was unclear, residents said it looked deteriorated with exposed and worn-out rods.
Douala’s city council is currently demolishing houses in high-risk zones susceptible to floods or landslides.
The building that collapsed on Sunday was not marked for demolition.