At least 60 killed as crowded church collapses in Nigeria
LAGOS, NigeriaThe roof of a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria on Dec. 10, killing at least 60 people, witnesses and an official said.
The Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom state, was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for the Dec. 10 ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop, congregants said.
Hundreds of people, including Gov. Udom Emmanuel, were inside when metal girders crashed onto worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in, they said, according to the Associated Press. Emmanuel and Weeks, who preached that God will make his followers rich, escaped unhurt.
Bodies of at least 60 victims have been retrieved but the toll could mount as a crane removes debris, according to a rescue official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The governor’s spokesman, Ekerete Udoh, said the state government will hold an inquiry to investigate if anyone compromised building standards. Buildings collapse often in Nigeria because of endemic corruption with contractors using sub-standard materials and bribing inspectors to ignore shoddy work or a lack of building permits.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his condolences, telling “the Governor and the People of Akwa Ibom State, the deep sorrow of his family, the government and the entire people of Nigeria over the many deaths and injury recorded following the incident,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Meanwhile, two girls approximately seven or eight years old blew themselves up in a northeastern Nigerian market on Dec. 11, killing themselves and wounding at least 17 others, witnesses said.
The girls were “seven or eight,” a local militia member in Maiduguri, Abdulkarim Jabo, told AFP.
Emergency services on-site in the town, the epicenter of the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency, said 17 people sustained injuries.
Bombing at Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral kills 25
On the same day, a bombing at Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral killed 25 people and wounded another 35, in one of the deadliest attacks carried out against the religious minority in recent memory.
The attack came two days after a bomb elsewhere in Cairo killed six policemen, an assault claimed by a shadowy group that authorities say is linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic militants have targeted Christians in the past, including a New Year’s Day bombing at a church in Alexandria in 2011 that killed at least 21 people.
Egypt’s official MENA news agency said an assailant lobbed a bomb into a chapel close to the outer wall of St Mark’s Cathedral, seat of Egypt’s Orthodox Christian church and home to the office of its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II. Egyptian state TV gave the casualty toll.