AT LEAST 160 people were killed when a church roof collapsed on to worshippers in southern Nigeria, on Sunday.
The Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, was still under construction, and witnesses said that contractors had rushed to finish work in time for the weekend service to ordain a bishop.
During the service, however, metal girders and the corrugated-iron roof caved in, crushing worshippers underneath. The Bishop, the Rt Revd Akan Weeks, escaped unhurt.
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, was inside the church when it collapsed, but was able to escape. He said that the state would hold an inquiry into the collapse, investigating whether substandard workmanship was to blame. Posting on his Facebook page, he said that he “personally supervised rescue operations and evacuation of the injured to hospital”.
”The state government will bear the medical cost of all those injured. We note that we have never had such a shocking incident in the history of our dear state. Government will, therefore, set up a high-powered panel of inquiry to ascertain the immediate and remote causes leading to the collapse of the building with a view to forestalling the recurrence of such incident, and bring to book persons found to have compromised professional standards in the construction of the building.”
He ordered the arrest of the contractor responsible for the construction of the building, the state-run News Agency of Nigeria reported.
A hospital director told the Associated Press that at least 160 people had been killed by the roof collapse.
In September 2014, 115 people, including 84 South Africans, were killed in Lagos after the collapse of a church belonging to the Nigerian televangelist T. B. Joshua (News, 19 September 2014).