SA govt sending plane to fetch collapse survivors

2014-09-21 14:03
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria. (Sunday Alamba, AP)

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Lagos - The government is expected to send an aircraft to Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday to evacuate survivors of the church tragedy that killed 86 South Africans.

According to the Sunday Independent, officials confirmed on Saturday that the bodies of those killed when a six-storey guest house collapsed at the Synagogue Church of All Nations’ (Scoan) compound in the capital would stay there for now, while forensic experts tried to identify the remains.

Officials said that the plane, which will carry medical personnel, would remain briefly on the ground in Lagos to load the injured South Africans before returning home.

It is believed at least 30 South Africans are in hospitals in the Nigerian capital. They are apparently under guard by security employed by Scoan.

These guards are allegedly preventing the media and relief workers from speaking to the South African survivors, reports the Sunday Independent.

Social workers on standby

South Africa has however, mobilised a massive effort to deal with the aftermath of the tragedy.

Apart from sending in forensic experts to deal with the bodies, government has also sent in doctors to treat the injured and counsellors to help the injured and their families.

Social workers are also at OR Tambo to support families waiting for injured relatives.

But, reports have emerged that the head of the church, Prophet TB Joshua tried to bribe Nigerian journalists on how to report the story of the guest house collapse.

Nigeria also appears to have deliberately blocked access by South African journalists to avoid negative publicity.

Growing scepticism

South Africa’s intervention comes more than a week after the fatal event that has claimed 84 South African lives.

At the time a total of 349 South Africans were in Lagos on matters connected to the church when the building collapsed.

Last week however, News24 reported that there was growing scepticism among locals in the Nigerian capital with regards to the self-proclaimed prophet TB Joshua who claims he can heal anything from disabilities to cancer and HIV/Aids.

One Nigerian said on Friday that the families of all the deceased should sue him.

“Obviously, with what happened last Friday, Pastor TB Joshua has no spiritual powers after all. He is fake. How come he didn’t see the disaster coming?” asks Tunde Dada, a civil servant.

“For someone who has falsely predicted or foretold events in the past, one would have expected him to also see last Friday’s event happening.”

“I am beginning to suspect the activities of the man who called himself a man of God,” Bamidele Jimoh, a student at the University of Lagos, told News24.

“Just last year, some worshippers in his church in Ghana died at a stampede, a tragedy which led to a ban on his activities in that country.

“Why would miracle seekers meet their sudden death at a place claiming to be the house of God? TB Joshua has not told Nigerians and the rest of the world the cause of all this.

“The families of all the deceased (in the Lagos) should sue T B Joshua,” Jimoh said.

High school teacher Ganiyu Hamza was less sceptical though because he says Joshua gives to the poor and needy.

“He should, however, accept blame for this disaster and not push everything to God who is innocent in all this. Raising a 2 storey building to six without firm support and approval from government to me is not justifiable.”

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