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Death toll in collapsed church building in Uyo rises to 29

Over 100 died at Uyo church: Witnesses

The number of people who died in Saturday’s collapsed Reigners Bible Church building in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, has risen to 29.

The state Police Commissioner, CP Murtala Mani, confirmed this on Monday in Uyo while speaking with correspondents.

But Reuters is disputing the figures, anchoring doubts on witness accounts.

According to the news agency, no fewer than 100 people were killed by collapsed church, belonging to Reigners Bible Church International, according to a resident and photojournalist who visited a morgue.

It was earlier reported that 27 died as at Sunday, while 37 persons, who suffered from various degrees of injury were receiving treatment in designated hospitals.

The latest figure now shows that 35 persons injured are currently receiving treatment.

The police commissioner said,“ the remaining 35 persons are responding to treatment.”

He however declined to confirm whether any member of the Akwa Ibom Executive Council (EXCO) was involved.

“I don’t know of any EXCO member involved,” Mani said.

He said that he was not aware of the arrest of the contractor and the engineers that handled the church building project.

In a statewide broadcast on Sunday condoling the victims’ families, the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, had ordered the arrest the contractor that handled the church building.

Emmanuel had also ordered investigation into the causes of the building collapse during a worship session, where the governor himself, who was in attendance, escaped unhurt.

The governor was the special guest of honour at the bishopric consecration service of the church founder, Apostle Akan Weeks.

The church sited along Uyo village road near Government House is alleged to have been hastily completed to allow for the hosting of bishopric enthronement of the founder. (NAN)

But Reuters is disputing the figures, anchoring doubts on witness accounts.

According to the news agency, no fewer than 100 people were killed by collapsed church, belonging to Reigners Bible Church International, according to a resident and photojournalist who visited a morgue.

“At Uyo teaching hospital where I am now I could see over a hundred corpses, many are heaped on top of each other on the floor,” said photojournalist Ini Samuel.

Mrs. Eno Etim & Emem Akpanitiat, victims of the church collapse
Mrs. Eno Etim & Emem Akpanitiat, victims of the church collapse

“Eye witnesses also said yesterday corpses were packed in four each bag.”

Gary Ubong, a resident, said the church’s roof had collapsed on worshippers while a pastor was being consecrated as bishop in the presence of government officials.

“I saw more than 100 dead bodies brought out on loaders,” said Ubong, who said he had rushed to the scene after the accident. “I also went to two hospitals and saw heaps of dead bodies difficult to count.”

State police spokeswoman Cordelia Nwawe said 27 were killed and 30 injured when the church collapsed during a service on Saturday.

Etete Peters, Chief Medical Director of the University of Uyo teaching hospital, said 21 bodies were delivered to his clinic and two of the injured admitted for treatment had died.

“Victims are in private hospitals and mortuaries scattered all over Uyo metropolis. We can’t really tell how many people have died so far,” he said. “We do not have space as people are still being brought in.”

The State police commissioner Murtala Mani debunking speculations that as many as 60 or 120 worshipers died in the incident.

The state emergency agency NEMA said in a statement that six people had been killed and 115 injured.

Another Uyo resident, Akpan Eminem, said he had been told by hospital staff that 79 people had died in the accident.

State governor Udom Emmanuel, who escaped unhurt from the church service, ordered the arrest of the building contractor, NAN reported.

Buildings collapses are frequent in Nigeria and often blamed by officials on lack of construction permits and the use of cheap materials amid widespread corruption.


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