Death toll uncertain after new church collapses on worshippers in Nigeria

Songs of praise turned to screams of terror on Saturday when the roof of a brand new church in Nigeria collapsed without warning, killing and injuring worshippers.

Various figures have been given for the death toll: as many as 160, reports the Associated Press, while sources told Reuters that at least 100 died.

The government on Monday was rushing plastic surgeons and other medical staff to the southern Nigerian city of Uyo, Reuters reported, after what has been described as the deadliest building collapse in the African country’s recent history.

The congregation numbering in the hundreds had gathered inside the Reigners Bible Church International on Saturday 10 December for the consecration of the church’s founder Akan Weeks as its bishop when metal girders fell and the corrugated iron roof caved in, Associated Press reports.

Akan Weeks and the governor of the state of Akwa Ibom were reported to have survived.

According to reports the church was still under construction, and churchgoers had said that workers had been rushing to finish it in time for the ceremony on Saturday.

Mortuaries in the area were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, said medical director Etete Peters of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, to Associated Press.

Peters said he counted 90 bodies removed from the church before he was told to stop counting on Saturday night.

Building collapses are not uncommon in Nigeria. In 2014, 116 people died when a multistorey guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos.

Image: This picture taken on 10 December 2016 shows the wreckage after a church roof collapsed on worshippers in Uyo, Nigeria (AFP/Getty Images)

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  1. This is a regrettable incident. I sympathise with the affected families.
    The situation reveals the extent of rot in the Built Environment in Nigeria. This is a Country that celebrated her 56th Independence anniversary recently, but till this day cannot regulate activities in the built environment. There is now Statute.
    The singular effort made 10 years ago, was the launching of the National Building Code which till date has not received the legal framework from the National Assembly to elevate it to a Statute.
    This incident also revealed the level of ignorant of our political leadership; what is an executive Governor of a state doing inside a building under construction with 100s of its citizens. As it stands now the whole noise will end after investigation. There is no law to sanction anybody found wanting in the role played.

  2. Building disasters are common in the construction industry,The worst is the killing of thousands of people in the recent earth quake in Haiti,where as there was casualty when earth quake of that magnitude happened in New Zealand.

    All construction disasters can be controlled or eliminated if and only if when trained construction professional start auditing constructions,not by Financial Accountants as it is happening now.

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