President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday visited the collapsed guesthouse at a mega-church in Lagos, promising to investigate the cause of the tragedy as the death toll hit 86, rescuers said Saturday.
“The president came to the church this morning to see things for himself. He met with Prophet T.B. Joshua and expressed his condolences to the bereaved families,” Ibrahim Farinloye of the National Emergency Management Agency told newsmen.
He said Jonathan promised to investigate the cause of the September 12 collapse of the guesthouse at Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) which left scores trapped in the debris.
Farinloye said the death toll now stood at 86 as against the previous figure of 84 after the various emergency teams involved in the operation had reconciled their figures.
“You are aware that several rescue teams at the state and federal levels were involved in the operations. We sat together and reconciled our figures which has now brought the death toll to 86. But those rescued still stands at 131,” he said.
Farinloye could not say if the new death toll included 84 South Africans who had been confirmed dead in the incident by the country’s high commissioner to Nigeria Lulu Mnguni.
It is believed that there were 349 South Africans visiting the popular church in the Ikotun district of the city at the time of the collapse.
The church’s leader Joshua, who has blamed the incident on sabotage, is one of Nigeria’s most well-known Pentecostal preachers and is referred to by followers across the world as “The Prophet” or “The Man of God”.
He claims to work miracles, including raising people from the dead and healing the sick, and foreseeing disasters.
The Lagos state government has accused the church of adding extra floors to the existing structure without approval.