Nigeria questions Zuma's building collapse numbers

2014-09-17 16:41
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lagos - A Nigerian official on Wednesday said 70 bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a collapsed church building in Lagos, but remain unidentified, questioning President Jacob Zuma's assertion that 67 of the victims had come from South Africa.

Zuma said on Tuesday night that at least 67 of his compatriots had died in Friday's accident at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria, describing it as one of the worst tragedies in his country's recent history.

Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), however, said it was too early to know how many people had been killed or their nationalities.

"The president [Zuma] is not in Nigeria. We are working on what we have," NEMA spokesperson Ibrahim Farinloye told Reuters, adding that 131 people had been rescued alive.

"The church management up until now has not estimated or given us any list of people trapped, so we are just working on blind guesswork until we get to the last rubble."

The collapse occurred when three extra stories were being added to the existing two of a guest house of the church compound, where visitors from abroad flock to stay.

Led by the charismatic "Prophet" TB Joshua, the Lagos Pentacostal church attracts a global following of Christians who believe Joshua is able to perform miracles including curing the ill and raising the dead from the grave.

The regular influx of visitors from abroad for the church's services, which 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.

Blocked entry

Members of the church had at first prevented emergency officials from participating in the rescue, making it difficult to establish a toll for the injured and dead, originally estimated at 41. State rescuers were allowed in on Saturday.

Pretoria described the search and rescue operation as "very fluid" but defended its count of 67 dead, saying it was based on records and information on the ground from five tour groups that had arranged for South African worshippers to go to Lagos.

"This number is based on credible information," foreign ministry spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

Late on Tuesday Zuma told the SABC national broadcaster that an unknown number of South Africans were "not yet accounted for" and that the nation needed to "grieve together".

Spokesperson Mac Maharaj later said the government believed around 300 South Africans from four to five groups were visiting the church on Friday, but it was not clear how many were on the spot when the building collapsed.

"It's a very popular church with South Africans," Maharaj said.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pretoria  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria building collapse

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
109 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.