Twenty-two people lost their lives Saturday night during an Easter vigil in Nigeria when a church building collapsed on the 3,000-strong congregation – while a separate church collapse in France injured 28 worshippers.
The incident in Benue state in Nigeria has been described by a government spokesman purely as an accident, with heavy rains being blamed for the unstable roof being pushed past its limit. Besides the 22 dead, which included 14 women and six children, 31 others were also injured, News.com.au reported.
"Following a heavy downpour and storm Saturday night, the building of St. Robert's Catholic Church in Adamgbe collapsed, killing 22 worshippers while 31 others sustained various degrees of injury," Cletus Akwaya, the spokesman, explained.
"It was an outdoor Easter vigil service but within the church premises. When the rain poured down, followed by a storm, the about 3,000 worshippers ran and crammed into the church and the building collapsed, killing 22 of them," he added.
The tragedy happened too quickly to allow people proper time to find safety – according to the report, the storm blew the roof off the church and the walls caved in, trapping the victims inside.
The bodies have been transported to state hospital in the nearby Vandeikya, and Stephen Lawani, deputy governor of the state, visited the site on Monday to offer his condolences to the victims' families.
In an unrelated incident also in Nigeria, 38 people died during Easter Sunday when a suicide car bomb exploded near a church in the northern city of Kaduna. The bomber is believed to be a member of the radical Islamist group Boko Harem, which has targeted Nigeria's Christian population and killed hundreds in the last year alone.
Another potentially deadly Easter-service accident on Sunday happened in France, where a newly constructed building, hosting an evangelical church congregation, collapsed and injured 28 people. The incident left a two-year-old girl and a 42-year-old woman in a critical condition.
More than a 100 people were inside the building, just outside Paris, when the floor above them collapsed.
"I heard a scream, I turned around and saw nothing but dust," said Father Patrick from the unnamed evangelical church. "I saw the floor had collapsed, it was awful."