Police in Ethiopia are investigating how a blind man fell to his death in a lift shaft in a government building in the capital, Addis Abba.

The Ethiopian National Association of the Blind (Enab) told the BBC that Dires Hunachew, a newly graduated teacher, had visited the education office in the building on Monday to request a transfer to a different area.

“From the seventh floor of the building, he wanted to go to the ground floor and pressed the lift key. But when he entered the lift after it arrived, the lift had no floor,” Enab spokesperson Gebre Teshome told BBC Amharic.

The lift shaft is estimated to be 21m (68ft) deep.

Friends of Mr Dires had contacted the association asking it to look into the incident at the building in the Akaki-Kaliti suburb of Addis Ababa, Mr Gebre said.

But Akaki-Kaliti suburb police commander Tesfaye Wosenyeleh said that investigations so far had shown that the lift was in proper working order.

He told the BBC that the teacher must have physically opened the door using his hands and subsequently fallen to his death.

Investigations were continuing, he added.

Nevertheless the teacher’s death has prompted debate on social media about how workplaces are often not disability-friendly.

Mr Deres’ death should be the time for blind people to call for more protection, lawyer and disability rights campaigner Yetnebersh Nigussie posted on Facebook.

Mr Gebre said bridges, school buildings and streets posed particular problems for blind people in Ethiopia.

“Lift keys are not written in Braille and most of them have no sound system,” he said.

“Maybe because we are small in number, nobody thinks of us.”