Church Collapses, Kills 160 Worshipers During Bishop Ordination in Nigeria

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At least 160 people have died after the roof of an evangelical church in southeastern Nigeria collapsed Saturday. Rescue operations were still being carried out Sunday.

The roof of the Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, the capital of Nigeria's Akwa Ibom state, caved in on the congregation during the ordination of a bishop, according to BBC.

"There were trapped bodies, parts of bodies, blood all over the place and people's handbags and shoes scattered," The Associated Press quoted a witness as saying. "I'm so traumatized I could not sleep last night for the horrors repeating themselves in my mind."

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At least ten people were killed and some 15 wounded when a church collapsed in Nigeria on Saturday.
At least ten people were killed and some 15 wounded when a church collapsed in Nigeria on Saturday. | (Photo: Reuters)

It "was about 11 am and 30 minutes into the programme. Suddenly, the roof from the middle fell on worshippers. The governor was quickly rescued. But others were not that lucky," Nigeria's Guardian newspaper quoted a survivor as saying.

Rescue workers were removing the rubble to look for survivors Sunday. According to state media, up to 200 people may have been killed. After the disaster, mortuaries in the city were overflowing.

The building of the church had been partially completed in a hurry for the ordination service.

State governor Udom Emmanuel was also inside the church at the time, but survived. He has ordered an inquiry into the incident. "We have never had such a shocking incident in the history of our dear state," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Some journalists have complained that church officials tried to prevent them from documenting the tragedy by seeking to seize cameras and forcing them to leave.

President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his condolences "over the many deaths and injury recorded following the incident," presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.

Collapsing of buildings is not uncommon in Nigeria. In September 2014, at least 116 people, including 84 South Africans, were killed in Lagos in the collapse of a church belonging to televangelist T.B. Joshua.

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