4-year-old SA girl found alive at Nigeria collapse site

2014-09-19 22:34
The site of the Nigeria church collapse. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

The site of the Nigeria church collapse. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

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Johannesburg - A 4-year-old South African girl was found alive at the collapsed Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria, the Gift of the Givers (GOTG) said on Friday.

The rescue of the girl, Zama, came to light when Sheik Mohammed Jamie, a GOTG representative in Nigeria, was searching for a woman whose daughter had contacted them for help, founder Imtiaz Sooliman said.

"A friend of Jamie's went first to the hospital on Wednesday to find one guy, and he was kicked out [by hospital staff]. Jamie himself then went to the same hospital later on Wednesday evening."

He was also asked to leave the hospital.

On Thursday morning, the South African embassy supplied Jamie with the names of five hospitals where South Africans were possibly being treated.

The second hospital on that list was the Subol Hospital in Lagos, which Jamie and his friend had been asked to leave on Wednesday.

Sooliman said when Jamie entered Subol Hospital again, staff were helpful.

While there, several South Africans recognised Jamie from the Gift of the Givers T-shirt he was wearing.

"That's when he was pointed at and there they [the South Africans] spoke to him," Sooliman said.

"He asked if they needed anything and they said 'We haven't spoken to our family. We are injured but okay. Some of us are going to be discharged soon'."

This was when one woman who had been rescued relayed the story of Zama.

"She is still at the hospital," Sooliman said of Zama.

It was not known whether Zama's parents had survived the collapse or not.

Sooliman said both South African embassy officials and local authorities were doing their best to help.

Attacks on rescue worker

However, he had heard reports that church members had attacked and threw stones at rescue workers and members of the public trying to help at the collapse site.

SABC radio news reported the number of South Africans killed in the building collapse had increased from 67 to 84.

"The number has risen to 84," South Africa's high commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Louis Mnguni, told the SABC in an interview on Friday morning.

He said the search for those unaccounted for had been called off. Those people were now presumed dead.

"The search has come to a conclusion. There were still 17 bodies outstanding," said Mnguni.

President Jacob Zuma announced on Tuesday that 67 South Africans were killed when the church's multi-storey guest house collapsed on Friday.

On Thursday, authorities said another 17 South Africans were still missing.

A total of 349 South Africans were in Lagos on church business when the disaster occurred. Of these, 265 were found alive.

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