3-story building collapses in Nigeria with children inside

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Frantic rescue efforts were underway in Nigeria on Wednesday after a three-story school building collapsed while classes were in session, with scores of children thought to be inside. Witnesses said nearly a dozen students had been pulled from the ruins, but it was not yet clear if any were dead.

Associated Press video from the scene showed a few dust-covered children carried from the rubble, to cheers. But the crowd quieted as other children were pulled out and slung over rescuers' shoulders, limp and dangling.

Onlookers crowded around in the densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital and a city of some 20 million people.

RELATED: Russian apartment building collapse

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Russian apartment building collapse
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Russian apartment building collapse
The scene of a part of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. At least four people died Monday when sections of an apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in Russia's Ural Mountains region, officials said. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Russian emergency officials say that at least four people have died after sections of the apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in the Ural Mountains region. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
This image provided by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry taken from tv footage, shows Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed section of an apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Russian emergency officials say that at least four people have died after sections of an apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in the Ural Mountains region. (Chelyabinsk Region Governor Press Service photo via AP)
Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Racing against frigid cold, hundreds of rescue workers searched through hulking shards of concrete for survivors of a partial collapse of an apartment building that has killed at least four people in Russia's Ural Mountains region. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. At least four people died Monday when part of a 10-story apartment building collapsed in Russia's Ural Mountains region, and hundreds of rescuers searched for survivors under the rubble in the frigid weather. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
The scene of a part of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. At least four people died Monday when sections of an apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in Russia's Ural Mountains region, officials said. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
The scene of a part of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. At least four people died Monday when sections of an apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in Russia's Ural Mountains region, officials said. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
Emergency Situations employees working at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. Russian emergency officials say that at least four people have died after sections of the apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in the Ural Mountains region. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
This photo provided by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry taken from tv footage shows a Emergency Situations employee carries a saved 10 month old baby at the scene of a collapsed section of an apartment building, in Magnitigorsk, a city of 400,000 about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations photo via AP)
This photo provided by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry taken from tv footage shows Emergency Situations employees carry a saved 10-month old baby at the scene of a collapsed section of an apartment building, in Magnitigorsk, a city of 400,000 about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations photo via AP)
This photo provided by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry taken from tv footage shows Emergency Situations employees save a 10 month old baby at the scene of a collapsed section of an apartment building, in Magnitigorsk, a city of 400,000 about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations photo via AP)
Women react as they look at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
Toys and flowers lie at the scene of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
Emergency Situations employees work at damaged parts of a collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 people, about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (AP Photo/Maxim Shmakov)
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It was not known how many students had been in a primary school located on the building's top floor. Some witnesses estimated as many as 100 children.

It is not immediately clear what caused the structure to collapse.

Hundreds of people stood in narrow streets and on rooftops of rusted, corrugated metal. A single yellow excavator scooped at the ruins, a nest of rebar and dust. Later it began nosing at large concrete slabs.

Emotional, a number of shirtless men jumped in to offer assistance, hacksaws and mallets in hand. Some were barefoot. One held a water bottle in his teeth.

Sani Datti, a spokesman with Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency, told The Associated Press that officials from the agency and other emergency services were at the site.

"For now we don't have any word on casualties as we are still busy with rescue work," he said.

Building collapses are all too common in Nigeria, where new construction often goes up without regulatory oversight. 

The collapse comes as President Muhammadu Buhari, newly elected to a second term, tries to improve groaning, inefficient infrastructure in Africa's most populous nation.

"Nigeria's infrastructure is generally less than half the size than in the average sub-Saharan Africa country and only a fraction of that in emerging market economies," the International Monetary Fund has noted.

"The perceived quality of the infrastructure is low."

There was no immediate comment from Buhari's office. Instead, as the rescue work continued, the president's personal assistant posted on Twitter a photo of a gleaming new terminal at the airport in the capital, Abuja.

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