3 dead as building next to Ham towers collapses

Monday April 11 2016
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An injured man stumbles through the crowd after he was saved from a collapsed building next to Ham Towers in Wandegeya Kampala. Courtesy photo

Kyaseka towers, a five storied building next to the popular Ham Towers in Makerere Monday came crumbling down, covering everything with it, its occupants inclusive. The building that eye witness accounts report to have collapsed at around 2pm had earlier in the day given warning signs, and occupants had been warned to vacate, a caution that many unfortunately ignored.
Ronald Mukasa, a mechanic who worked in a basement garage in the same building was out for lunch when the building went down. Together with his colleagues from the same garage, they had been alarmed earlier in the day when a bean near their garage sunk further into the ground.
“This was at around 10am. The beam sunk into the soil. That is when we knew something was wrong and immediately started getting our clients’ cars out of the garage, fearing that the walls of our garage might collapse,” Mukasa said.

They had sounded a bell of alarm, even informing the owner, Moses Kyaseka, who in fact came around and further implored occupants to vacate. “The building engineer had also come around 2hours before collapse, and advised that everyone vacates but only a few took him seriously.”
Many trapped
Unfortunate for those that did not vacate, at 2pm, when the building started to collapse, time is the one thing they did not have. It covered them in its ruble, and by the time we got to the scene, not many had found an escape.
Of the 10 people that had so far been discovered out of the ruble, three were already dead, their identity not known, while the rest were badly injured, some coming out with missing hands.

The rescue operations were still under way, though at a slow pace much to the frustration of onlookers. Ronald Juuko, who worked in the same building claimed to have received two phone calls from trapped colleagues, Moses Kigonya and Samuel Matovu, before their phones went off, asking for help.

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Police and civilians look at the debris of the collapsed building. Photo by Alex Esagala.


“They are trapped at the back but police rescue is only concentrating at the front. They should break down the fence at the back. There is a better chance of rescue there.” The agitated Juuko suggested.
Unknown cause of collapse
Brian Ampaire, the DPC Wandegeya, Kampala North Police said the rescue operation will go on through the night, though he feared that even then, it may go on for two days.
“This was a big building. It may take time but we are doing everything possible. We have locked off Makerere Hill road and people should use the Gadaffi road as we conduct the rescue.” Ampaire said.

The cause of the collapse is still unknown, though the occupants that survived claim the cause could have been an engineering error, given that the building even had no pronounced drainage paths and most of the water just soaked into the ground.
Ampaire also points to an engineering error, noting the peculiar look of the cement. “Of course we cannot be so sure, but by the mere look of this cement, you get a feeling the mixing could have been lacking. Nonetheless we shall wait for the engineers to give us their view.”
Rescue operations are still ongoing with graders and bulldozers in action at the site. Tens are feared dead.

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