Nigeria: At least 160 dead as church roof caves in on the congregation

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A church collapses on the congregation in capital of Nigeria’s Akwa Ibon state. At least 160 people have been reportedly killed as a result of the incident. The roof caved in when the congregants had gathered for an ordination ceremony, in an evangelical church in southeastern Nigeria. The incident took place on Saturday, December 10. Rescue operations followed the day after the incident as there were still bodies buried under the rubble.

Church roof collapses in Nigeria

Details emerge that the roof of the Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, whne the congregants had gathered for the ordination of a bishop. Witnesses stated: “There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place and people’s handbags and shoes scattered. I’m so traumatized I could not sleep last night for the horrors repeating themselves in my mind.”

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A Nigerian newspaper quoted one of the survivors as saying: It “was about 11 am and 30 minutes into the program. Suddenly, the roof from the middle fell on worshipers. The governor was quickly rescued. But others were not that lucky.”

“There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place, and people’s handbags and shoes scattered,” said computer analyst Ukeme Eyibio.

“At Uyo teaching hospital where I am now I could see over a hundred corpses, many are heaped on top off each other on the floor. Eye witnesses also said yesterday corpses were packed in four each bag,” said photojournalist Ini Samuel.

“I saw more than 100 dead bodies brought out on loaders,” said Gary Ubong, a local who had rushed to the scene after the accident. “I also went to two hospitals and saw heaps of dead bodies difficult to count.”

Hours after the incident, the rescue workers continued to search the victims from under the rubble and debris. Nigeria’s state speculated that the incident might have killed up to 200 people. Reports emerged that the mortuaries in the city had already been occupied with the dead bodies recovered so far after the incident.

It has been claimed that part of the church building was completed hurriedly for the ordination ceremony. When the building collapsed, State Governor Udom Emmanuel was also inside the church; however, he survived and was not harmed. Following the incident, the state governor has ordered an inquiry into the incident. “We have never had such a shocking incident in the history of our dear state,” his social media statement read.

After the incident, the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari voiced deep sorrow and grief over the incident and expressed his condolences. A Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu conveyed President’s condolences “Over the many deaths and injury recorded following the incident.”