67 South Africans killed in Nigeria church collapse

2014-09-16 22:15

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Sixty-seven South Africans have died in the building collapse that occurred at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria, President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

Scores more sustained injuries when the multi-storey guesthouse belonging to the church, headed by “Prophet” T.B. Joshua, collapsed on Friday.

“This is a particularly difficult time for South Africa. Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country,” said Zuma.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy.

“The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief,” he said.

Zuma said he had directed various government departments to ensure that relatives of the deceased were taken to Nigeria to identify their loved one's bodies.

Government wanted to ensure that the bodies were repatriated as soon as possible.

Zuma thanked the families of the deceased and the Nigerian government for their co-operation with the South African government.

He also extended his condolences to Nigeria and all other nations affected by this tragedy.

“May the souls of the departed compatriots rest in peace,” he said.

T.B. Joshua's church draws thousands of followers from all over Africa and many other parts of the world, attracted by claims that he and his inner circle have special healing powers, including cures for normally incurable ailments including HIV/AIDS and chronic kidney disease.

The regular influx of visitors from abroad for church services that can last up to a week creates demand for accommodation that the church's own guest house has been unable to meet, and often spills over into local hotels.

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