11, December 2016
A church collapse in southern Nigeria has taken the lives of a large number of worshipers who had gathered there for a service. Medical officials have so far confirmed 160 people dead, predicting that the final death toll could be much higher. Rescue operations are still underway to find potential survivors. Hundreds of people were inside the church in Uyo in Akwa Ibom state when metal girders crashed onto worshipers and the corrugated iron roof caved in.
The church was under construction and workers had to finish the job hastily for the service. The government is now set to launch an inquiry to find out if anyone compromised building standards. The state governor Udom Emmanuel was attending the ceremony in the church when the incident happened, but he was able to escape.
In a statement, he described the collapse as “an unfortunate incident” and said he “shared in the agony of the moment.” President Muhammadu Buhari has also offered his condolences. “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,” he said.
The president added, “I pray that the souls of the deceased will rest in peace, and that the injured will experience quick recovery.” Incidents as such are fairly common in Nigeria owing to the corruption of contractors and the use of substandard materials. Some are said to even bribe inspectors to ignore the risks. In 2014, 116 people lost their lives when a multi-story guesthouse of a church collapsed in Lagos, the country’s largest city.