‘At least 60 dead’ in Nigerian church collapse

Religious ceremony held in half-finished church ends in disaster after iron roof caves in

Benjamin Kentish
Sunday 11 December 2016 00:28
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‘At least 60 dead’ in Nigerian church collapse

At least 60 people have been killed in Nigeria after a church roof collapsed during a bishop’s ordination ceremony attended by the state governor.

Reports suggested the Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom state, was being used for the ceremony despite still being under construction.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been inside when metal girders fell and the corrugated iron roof caved in.

An official said at least 60 bodies have been recovered and the death toll is likely to rise as rescuers rush to remove debris.

Udom Emmanuel, the governor of Akwa Ibom state, was inside the church when the incident occured but was able to escape.

In a statement, he described the collapse as "an unfortunate incident" and said he had "shared in the agony of the moment".

Mr Emmanuel said: "I was present at the church during the incident and shared in the agony of the moment.

"Thereafter, I personally supervised rescue operations and evacuation of the injured to the hospital. I directed all emergency organisations, agencies of government and corporate organisations especially the construction companies to be involved in the exercise. They acted promptly and I commend their sense of patriotism and gallantry."

He said the state would cover the medical costs of those injured and would hold an inquiry into whether anyone had compromised building standards.

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Citizens should "remain calm, pray for the injured and avoid undue speculation as the situation is being given the best possible attention", Mr Emmanuel added.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he had spoken with Mr Emmanuel to "commiserate with him on the tragic collapse".

He said: "I asked the Governor to convey to the people of Akwa Ibom the deep sorrow felt by me, and by the entire country, over this tragedy.

"I pray that the souls of the deceased will rest in peace, and that the injured will experience quick recovery.

"Any tragedy that affects any part of Nigeria affects all of us. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Akwa Ibom."

The incident comes two years after 116 people were killed when the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria.

Building collapses are not uncommon in the country as a result of corruption causing contractors to use sub-standard materials and bribe inspectors to ignore risks.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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