Rescue teams at a city in southern Sierra Leone struggled Thursday to reach labourers buried under a building that collapsed as they were working on it, rescue services said.
A preliminary toll given by the local hospital said more than a dozen had been injured, but there were fears the final figure would be far higher.
The three-storey building crashed down on Wednesday in Bo, the country’s second largest city, located about 250 kilometres (155 miles) from the capital Freetown.
More than 80 people were scheduled for work on the site at the time, but how many lay in the rubble was unclear, an official at the disaster management department told AFP by phone.
“We have received over a dozen people with injuries,” Dr. Peter Samai, the medical officer at the Bo Government Hospital, said.
The building was being put up close to a Ministry of Agriculture office on the Bo-Taiama Highway where several government offices are located.
The collapse happened as workers were concreting the last floor. Police cordoned off the site as rescue teams looked for survivors, an eyewitness said.
“We are frantically working, with machinery, shovels and hands,” local mayor Harold Tucker said.
“We are working round the clock to rescue people trapped but it’s unlikely they will survive.”
The West African state is one of the poorest in the world, ranking 184th out of 189 countries in the 2018 UN Human Development Index.