Johannesburg – An “infrasonic weapon” caused the collapse of a church’s guest house in Lagos where 81 South Africans were killed last year.
That's according to an academic paper published this month.
Its author, Paul Biedomo Iguniwei, claims the building absorbed "high energy infrasound", which caused its atoms to resonate.
Eighty-one South Africans were among the 116 people killed on September 12 2014 when the six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Lagos, led by preacher TB Joshua, collapsed.
Iguniwei’s paper, titled “Elimination of the Structural Failure and the Placement of Chemical Explosives Options, for the Infrasonic Weapon Option as the Cause of the Synagogue (Scoan) Building Collapse” was published in the International Journal of Scientific Engineering and Research in its July 7 edition.
Iguniwei is a lecturer at Kaduna Polytechnic, and an MSc student in material science and explosives at the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Iguniwei based his conclusion on a visit to the site of the collapsed building in Lagos, where he inspected the foundation. He also watched CCTV footage of the disaster.
He ruled out an explosion or structural failure as the cause for the collapse. The foundation columns were still intact and showed no signs of stress or cracks.
Having looked at the videos, he could see no thermal shock wave, indicating an explosion. There was also no evidence of carbonisation in the collapsed structure and surrounding buildings.
He used Wikipedia articles to give a brief history of research into infrasonics and sonic weapons. Infrasound, or low-frequency sound, is inaudible to the human ear. An “infrasonic pulse generator” would have been used to cause the guest house to resonate at a certain level of intensity.
“If the power or intensity is high or very high, the building can suffer a crumbling collapse”.
He said it was known in the “weapons research community” that certain nations had taken sonic and infrasonic weapons “to the next level”.
“How high that level is, I do not know, but certainly our science tells us that infrasound weaponised with high enough intensity can cause vibrations to structures at the atomic level causing the kind of destruction we saw ... at the Scoan premises,” he concluded.
Following an inquest, coroner Oyetade Komolafe said earlier this month that the collapse was due to structural failure. He recommended that the church be prosecuted as the guest house did not have planning permission.
"The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims," he said.
The church has rejected this and claimed the collapse was due to sabotage, caused by a “mysterious aircraft” repeatedly flying over the building.
Lagos state authorities have said they would study the coroner’s ruling and decide on the next step.