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At least 160 people killed as church rooftop collapsed in southern Nigeria

News Agencies | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:38 IST

160 people were killed when a roof top of a church collapsed in southern Nigeria, witnesses and an official said on 11 December.

The Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom state, was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for yesterday's ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop, congregants said.

Hundreds of people, including Gov. Udom Emmanuel, were inside when metal girders crashed onto worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in, they said. Emmanuel and Weeks, who preached that God will make his followers rich, escaped unhurt.

Bodies of at least 160 victims have been retrieved but the toll could mount as a crane removes debris, according to a rescue official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to reporters.

The governor's spokesman, Ekerete Udoh, said the state government will hold an enquiry to investigate if anyone compromised building standards. Buildings collapse regularly in Nigeria because of endemic corruption with contractors using sub-standard materials and bribing inspectors to ignore shoddy work or a lack of building permits.

In 2014, 116 people died when a multi-story guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital. Most victims were visiting South African followers of the megachurch's influential founder TB Joshua.

Two structural engineers, Joshua and church trustees have been accused of criminal negligence and involuntary manslaughter after a coroner found the building collapsed from structural failures caused by design and detailing errors. But Lagos state government efforts to bring them to court have been foiled by repeated legal challenges that have delayed a trial.


First published: 11 December 2016, 11:13 IST